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Lions Gate forms Latino film venture with Televisa

Lions Gate Entertainment, taking aim at the Latino film market, is forming a joint venture with Mexican media giant Televisa to produce and distribute movies for Latino audiences in the U.S.

The move, confirmed by a person familiar with the situation, builds on a previous deal that Lions Gate has with Televisa to tap the U.S. Latino film market, a growing sector in the theater business. The joint venture, Pantelion Films, is designed to produce and distribute eight to 10 films a year over the next five years, the person said.

Over the years Hollywood has tried various attempts to make movies that target the Latino market, but with sporadic success. Lions Gate even tried it in 2005 when it partnered with Panamax Films, a Miami-based company, headed by former Telemundo Chief Executive Jim McNamara. That venture made two films. McNamara will be chairman of Pantelion.

Lions Gate and Televisa are expected to announce the Pantelion venture Tuesday.

Lions Gate is known for producing movies for niche markets. Its films by Tyler Perry have been huge hits. The Santa Monica-based studio, which also produces the cable TV series "Weeds" and "Mad Men," has been embroiled for much of the last year in a takeover battle with investor Carl Icahn.

The movies produced and distributed under the Pantelion label are expected to have modest budgets, and some will be released in limited number of theaters. Lions Gate has had a partnership with Televisa for the last two years whereby Lions Gate has released movies from Televisa's film library in the U.S.

Lions Gate's venture with Televisa was first reported by Variety.

-- Ben Fritz

 
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