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Mandate Pictures may spin off from Lions Gate with Joe Drake

Joe Drake Lions Gate

Mandate Pictures, the Lions Gate Entertainment-owned film finance and production company behind such movies as "Juno," "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," and "Young Adult," may soon regain its independence -- under the management of Joe Drake.

As part of the executive's planned departure from the Santa Monica studio next month, Lions Gate senior management has held preliminary talks with former motion picture group chairman Joe Drake about partially or entirely spinning off Mandate, which he co-founded nine years ago, two knowledgeable people not authorized to speak publicly confirmed.

Drake's plans have been unclear since Lions Gate acquired Summit Entertainment in January and installed its co-chairmen, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, in Drake's job. At the time, Lions Gate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer said Drake would stay on to oversee the March 23 release of "The Hunger Games," the studio's most expensive and highest profile production to date.

It now appears that Drake could reclaim his old seat at Mandate. The executive helped launch Mandate in 2003 and ran it until 2007, when he sold the independent studio to Lions Gate for $60 million and assumed his role as motion picture group chairman.

However, Drake always maintained his title as CEO of Mandate  while leaving the day-to-day operations of the venture to president and fellow co-founder Nathan Kahane.

Now Drake and Kahane may take back control of Mandate and run it independently from Lions Gate, the two people familiar with the situation said.

It's not yet clear exactly what form that separation would take. One person close to the matter said the two firms would probably maintain a business relationship. In addition, Lions Gate would keep some control of Mandate's library of nearly 30 pictures.   

A separation agreement has not been finalized, however, and it's not yet certain that one will be reached, people close to the matter cautioned.

With Lions Gate's acquisition of Summit bringing together two film companies with separate production and marketing staffs, some in the industry have questioned whether Lions Gate would need a third movie division under the same roof.

Since it was acquired by Lions Gate, Mandate has developed a small slate of pictures that it co-financed with other studios, including Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and even Summit. The upcoming Sam Raimi-produced horror thriller "The Possession" is the first film Mandate will release in partnership with its new parent company.

Other planned 2012 Mandate releases include the comedies "Great Hope Springs," with Meryl Streep and Steve Carell, and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," starring Carrell and Keira Knightley.    

RELATED:

Power Players: Mandate Pictures' Nathan Kahane

Lions Gate acquires Summit Entertainment for $412.5 million

Summit's Friedman, Wachsberger join Lions Gate; Drake plans exit

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Joe Drake. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

 
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