ionsgate was founded in 1997 by Frank Giustra, a Canadian investment banker hoping to capitalize on the growing film industry in his home town. The company bought a number of small production facilities and distributors, including Montreal-based Cinépix Film Properties also known as Cinéxus-Famous Players Distribution, Trimark Pictures, Mandate Pictures and, most notably, Artisan Entertainment (which itself had formerly been LIVE Entertainment, and before that, Vestron Pictures).
They had sold off their Canadian distribution rights to Maple Pictures, founded and co-owned by two former Lionsgate executives, Brad Pelman and Laurie May.Recently, Lionsgate sold their subsidiary Maple Pictures to film distributor Alliance Films, which is based in Montreal, Canada.
Its first major box office success was American Psycho in 2000, which began a trend of producing and distributing films too controversial for the major American studios. Other notable films included Affliction, Gods and Monsters, Dogma, Saw and the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which became the studio's highest grossing film.
Lionsgate had played a significant role in the co-financing and co-partnership with Relativity Media on its films until 2010 when the latter company split from its deal with Lionsgate to form its own self-distribution unit.
In 2006, Lionsgate acquired the American television production and syndication company Debmar-Mercury. This studio is recognized for its role in a number of daytime TV programs.
In 2007, Lionsgate bought a partial stake in independent film distribution company Roadside Attractions.
Lionsgate, along with MGM and Paramount Pictures/Viacom, is also a co-owner of Epix, a new pay TV movie channel which debuted on October 30, 2009 on Verizon FiOS IPTV systems, that will rival HBO and Showtime.Lionsgate also stated they would be starting work in music albums.
The distribution of selected recent non-in-house films for pay-per-view and on-demand are under the supervision of NBCUniversal Television Distribution under Universal Pictures (Universal formally held home video and television rights to many of the early Lionsgate films), while all others (particularly the in-house films) are distributed for both cable and broadcast television through Lionsgate's syndicated division.
Lionsgate's library of movies and TV shows can be seen on digital platform Hulu.