With its billion-dollar Hunger Games film franchise winding down, it’s no secret that Lionsgate is ambitiously after its next big YA hit. And within the TV realm, the Hollywood studio’s UK arm may just find that in the pipeline at Kindle Entertainment, the London-based children’s prodco in which it has just taken a 25% stake.
Kindle Entertainment, which produces such kids series as the Henry Winkler vehicle Hank Zipzer and preschool series Dinopaws, represents the first strategic TV investment for Lionsgate UK.
“Lionsgate in the United States has made lots of acquisitions. The company only started recently operating in the UK, and we are the first TV producer they are taking on,” says Kindle Entertainment joint managing director Melanie Stokes. “Lionsgate is positioned well in the US with the Hulus, Netlfixes and Amazons, and this is the future of scripted content, so we are keen to be in partnership with a company that gets picked up by those platforms.”
The buy-in also represents a first-look development deal, wherein Lionsgate UK will provide Kindle with market intelligence and a strategic roadmap for taking development funding beyond the UK.
“We’ve always had ambitions to make our shows be global hits, and to have a wider audience beyond kids – Treasure Island is a good example of this – and in order to position ourselves in that arena, we need all the friends we can get,” says Stokes, adding that Lionsgate is as much a studio as it is a financier with brand recognition around the globe.
Eight-year-old Kindle Entertainment, which was founded by Stokes and Anne Brogan, will now have Zygi Kamasa, CEO of Lionsgate UK, on its board. Kindle will continue with its shows that are currently in development, but the plan is to significantly bolster its focus on primetime returning series.
“The market has changed so much,” Stokes says. “One of the things Lionsgate liked about us is our broad slate that spans preschool through family through primetime. There’s such an international hunger for scripted content that reaches all part of the schedule right now.“