STX Entertainment Might Be Acquired By Lionsgate

The studio landscape, which used to function as the bedrock of the industry in decades past, is shifting beneath our very feet once again. We only recently received the news of Skydance Media setting a new deal with Apple after pivoting away from long-term partner Paramount, continuing a trend of usually reliable theatrical-centric movie studios eyeing the potential of digital streamers instead. Though not as major a story as an outright merger (such as Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, even if that's on the video game side of the entertainment spectrum), the question of whether such moves were always in the cards or heavily exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic remains. Needless to say, this latest news is sure to lead to even more uncertainty and change.

Variety reports that Lionsgate is intending to absorb "some or all" of STX Entertainment, the studio behind such recent hits as "Hustlers" and "Bad Moms." The news comes after STX spent much of the pandemic shopping titles from its library to various streaming services. The distribution rights to their Dave Bautista-starring "My Spy" were sold to Amazon Studios in April of 2020, while the Gerard Butler disaster movie "Greenland" received the same fate, only this time heading to HBO Max (although, interestingly enough, STX circled back last year and purchased the rights to distribute the sequel). The report describes Lionsgate's involvement as a last-minute development, capping recent negotiations between the studios that apparently featured "several other players" on the outside looking in, hoping to bid for STX themselves.

Only seven years after STX was first founded by film producer Robert Simonds, this would mark an ignominious conclusion to a studio that, Variety's own words, "promised to be the champion and defender of the mid-budget theatrical movie, but only managed to field a few breakout hits."

Winds of Change

This acquisition by Lionsgate comes during a period of immense shake-ups in recent years, such as AT&T getting into (and, just as quickly, out of) the movie distribution game with WarnerMedia, causing no shortage of headlines or, well, headaches given their massive impact on Warner Bros. library of movies going straight to HBO Max streaming. As for Lionsgate, the studio also acquired a partial stake in Spyglass Media Group in 2021, signaling their interest in expanding their own library of IP that has apparently extended to STXfilms, as well. Variety mentions that neither Lionsgate and STX had any comment on the matter.

Unfortunately, the move makes quite a bit of from STX's perspective. According to the report, the studio was under $148 million in debt at the end of 2021 and, currently, STX finds itself only "days away" from arriving at a February deadline that would require making payments to its creditors. STX's attempts to carve out its own niche in supplying the types of adult-oriented, mid-range movies that have increasingly disappeared over the years in favor of big budget blockbusters were certainly admirable, but ultimately doomed to fail amid an ever-changing theatrical environment. For all the talk among movie fans (me included!) about wanting studios to fund more movies like "Hustlers" or "Knives Out" (for which, notably, Lionsgate lost the sequel rights to Netflix), the numbers repeatedly show that audiences simply don't turn out for them anymore — especially during a years-long pandemic. This, sadly, is the end result of those moviegoing trends.

Stay tuned to /Film for more updates as they come in.