Lionsgate's 'Mad' man signs on until 2014
By now, you'd think Jon Feltheimer would be running one of Hollywood's big media companies or major studios. But no, the 57-year-old executive says he's content heading a mavarick mini-major, and who can blame him? The industry vet just signed on for 5 1/2 more years as co-chairman and CEO of Lionsgate, and got a boatload of stock grants in the bargain.
Felt, as he's widely known in the industry, says he can't imagine a better place to work. Lionsgate, the Santa Monica-based producer behind the "Saw" and Tyler Perry movies as well as the Emmy winning "Mad Men" TV series is one of the last standing independent film and TV studios in Hollywood.
"We're small enough to be agile, but when you look at our filmed entertainment business, we're getting up into the major leagues," says Feltheimer, who was a TV executive macher for nine years at Sony before joining Lionsgate in 2000.
Since then, Lionsgate's revenue has grown from $184 million to $1.4 billion in fiscal 2008 (OK, so it lost $74 million last year, thanks mostly to higher movie marketing costs, but it did bounce back to profitability in the last fiscal quarter). Under Feltheimer, the studio has diversified through acquisitions including independent production companies Artisan Entertainment (which released "Blair Witch Project") and Mandate Pictures (producer of "Juno"), Redbus Film Distributors (now called Lionsgate U.K.) and the Debmar-Mercury television distribution and syndication company.
Feltheimer also oversaw the launch of the Fearnet horror channel with partners Sony and Comcast, and investments in Break.com, an online viral marketing company aimed at young males, as well as independent film producer and distributor Roadside Attractions.
It looks like Lionsgate really wanted to keep Feltheimer: It offered him a contract extension nearly three years before the expiration of his current one -- although his annual base pay of $1.2 million remains fixed until 2011. At that time, he will get what amounts to a cost-of-living raise pegged to local economic indices.
The payoff, however, comes in stock. He was granted 458,036 in time-vesting restricted shares and an additional 458,035 in performance-vesting shares, with the first grants available in 2012.
"I'm still the lowest paid executive in town," says Feltheimer.
In Hollywood, of course, low can be pretty high.
-- Claudia Eller
Photo: Jon Feltheimer. Credit: Vince Bucci / Getty Images