Lionsgate reunites with founder Frank Giustra for TV venture

Sea to Sky Entertainment will be jointly managed by the indie filmed entertainment studio and Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films, to develop TV shows for international broadcast and cable networks.

Frank Giustra is joining with Lionsgate Entertainment, the company he founded, and Thunderbird Films to form a new TV partnership to develop TV shows for international broadcast and cable networks.

The news follows Giustra last month taking a major stake in Thunderbird Films, to get the Vancouver-based indie producer deeper into TV production.

The new 50-50 venture, called Sea to Sky Entertainment, will be jointly managed by Lionsgate and Thunderbird, and aims to share production and distribution costs for any series picked up by TV networks.

Besides reducing risk, the partnership will also step up TV production for Canadian networks.

“Teaming with Frank and Thunderbird will help us explore new strategies for producing programming for the broadcast networks cost-effectively as well as expanding our TV business into other areas,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said Tuesday in a statement.

Sea to Sky arrives with a number of projects already in the works, including a development and production deal with reality producer and doc filmmaker R.J. Cutler (The War Room), with whom Lionsgate is already at work on ABC drama Nashville.

The company is also developing a one-hour drama from American author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), and has optioned the rights to an upcoming book, An Uncommon Youth, with veteran producer Anne Thomopoulos steering the project as a limited series for international co-production.