Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. (commonly known as Alliance Atlantis and commonly shortened to simply Alliance or Atlantis and formerly traded as TSX:AAC) was a Canadian media company that operated primarily as a specialty service operator in Canada. Alliance Atlantis also had offices in Halifax, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona, Shannon, and Sydney.

Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc.
Company typePublic
TSX: AAC
TSX: AAC.B
Nasdaq: AACB
Predecessors
Founded1998; 26 years ago (1998)
FounderMichael MacMillan
Defunct2008; 16 years ago (2008)
FateSplit up:
Successors
Headquarters121 Bloor Street East, ,
SubsidiariesAlliance Cinemas
Websiteallianceatlantis.com (archived)

Alliance Atlantis was the result of a merger of two companies: Atlantis Communications, founded in 1978 by Michael MacMillan, and Alliance Communications, founded in 1984 by Stephen Roth, Denis Héroux, John Kemeny, Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori and Susan Cavan as Alliance Entertainment. Alliance Communications and Atlantis Communications merged to form Alliance Atlantis in 1998 which was a member of the North American Broadcasting Association (NABA).

The company ceased to exist in 2007 as the broadcasting division was acquired by Canwest Global Communications and an affiliate of Goldman Sachs that year. The motion picture division was then spun off and operated independently as Alliance Films, headquartered in Montreal (subsequently sold to Entertainment One and later, Lionsgate), and the international television distribution division is now owned by Echo Bridge Entertainment.

All of the former Alliance Atlantis specialty networks, except for the now-defunct BBC Kids, are now owned by Corus Entertainment.[1] The films division was later acquired by Entertainment One group and folded into eOne on January 9, 2013. Most of the assets of eOne later acquired by Lionsgate on December 27, 2023.

The Alliance name survived under the Alliance Cinemas banner until January 1, 2021; the theaters under the chain are now owned by Cineplex Entertainment.

Formation and history edit

Alliance Atlantis was formed in 1998 from the merger of two former production companies, Alliance Communications (founded in 1984) and Atlantis Communications (founded in 1978).[2] As President and Board Director of the subsequent combined Alliance Atlantis, Lewis Rose was responsible for leading the teams which arranged the merger financing of $545 million and which achieved in excess of $20 million in savings and synergies from the combination of the two companies in the year following the merger. (The merger was also parodied on Made in Canada, when that show's Pyramid Productions merged with a company called Prodigy.) After the merger, the company laid off 15% of their staff (much of them from pre-merger Aliiance), and closed the former Atlantis sales office in Amsterdam.[3] As part of the merger deal, Robert Lantos, founder of Alliance, signed a deal for film and TV production with Alliance Atlantis through his own firm, Serendipity Point Films.[4][5]

At the time of the merger, both companies had launched various Canadian specialty television services; in 1995, Alliance launched Showcase Television while Atlantis launched Life Network (which has since been renamed "Slice"); in fall 1997 the companies launched History Television and HGTV Canada respectively. Earlier that year, Alliance Atlantis teamed up with Hallmark Cards to create Crayola Kids Adventures, a series of three direct-to-video adaptations of well-known children's novels. Atlantis had also been a major investor in YTV in its first few years before selling out to Shaw Communications and later, Corus Entertainment from 1999.[6]

In 1998, the company purchased 75% of Cineplex Odeon Films.[7] In 1999, Kinowelt purchased an interest in Alliance Atlantis' UK distribution arm, which was soon renamed to Momentum Pictures in 2000.[8][9] Also that year, the company secured the Canadian rights to distribute features by Destination Films.[10] Also in 2000, it purchased the rights to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from Disney's Touchstone Television.[11][12] Another major deal in 2000 was a renewal of their distribution pact with Artisan Entertainment, including Canadian distribution of Artisan material, and UK theatrical distribution of Artisan films via Momentum Pictures.[13]

The company expanded its business with its launch of its children's production label AAC Kids in 1999,[14] and its nonfiction production label, AAC Fact in 2000.[15][16] These labels were dissolved in 2003.[17]

In 2000, AAC Kids signed a European co-financing and distribution deal with German studio TV-Loonland AG.[18]

In 2001, the company purchased Salter Street Films, which produced a number of television shows for both the Canadian and international market. However, soon after the acquisition, Salter Street was disbanded and its active projects were transferred to Alliance Atlantis' own television production/development division.

Citing lower profits, Alliance Atlantis later closed the majority of its production arm, aside from the highly profitable CSI: Crime Scene Investigation family of series, which it co-produces with CBS Television Studios. It briefly maintained Salter Street's long-running This Hour Has 22 Minutes before transferring the show to the Halifax Film Company, made up of former Salter Street employees Its primary business became its ownership of a number of Canadian specialty services, which, in addition to those listed above, later included Food Network, Discovery Health (now FYI Canada), BBC Canada, BBC Kids and more.

Throughout the years, the company had purchased assets of several bankrupt studios, including Norstar Entertainment, Telescene, Peace Arch, Cinemavault, Odeon Films and in 2005, had bought out the television library of Fireworks Distributing Corporation from CanWest Global Communications.[19]

In 2007, Alliance Atlantis was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, as published in Maclean's magazine, the only broadcaster to be included on the list.[20]

Sale to CanWest / Goldman Sachs edit

On December 20, 2006, the company announced that it was "exploring strategic alternatives", effectively putting the company up for sale. Expected bidders included Canwest Global, Corus Entertainment, Astral Media, and Rogers Communications.[21] The rights to CSI were expected to be sold separately, with CBS Paramount Television as the most likely bidder.[22] A similar announcement was made previously regarding the Motion Picture Distribution unit, which is also expected to be sold separately while finding a bidder to acquire most parts of the company.

On January 10, 2007, it was announced that Alliance Atlantis would be acquired by a consortium of Canwest Global and GS Capital Partners, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs.

  • The Entertainment and Production division, consisting mainly of AAC's 50% stake in the lucrative CSI franchise, was acquired by GS Capital Partners. CBS Paramount TV gained Alliance Atlantis' international distribution rights to the programs.
  • Motion Picture Distribution LP, including its publicly traded income fund, was acquired by Canada-based EdgeStone Capital Partners and GS Capital Partners. On January 15, 2008, Edgemont's 51% voting stake (and 38.5% equity stake) in the Alliance label was purchased by Société générale de financement du Québec, an investment agency of the provincial government. Since the breakup, the company's films have been distributed under the "Alliance" banner for English-language releases and "Alliance Vivafilm" for French-language releases until the sale of the company to eOne.
  • The Broadcasting division was jointly acquired by Canwest and GS Capital Partners, with the former owning a majority voting interest and the latter a majority of the equity. Canwest owns 66.67% and GS owns 33.32% of CW Media, the holding company for the former AAC channels. Initially, Canwest still managed the channels it owned before the merger separately. It was expected that the Canwest and CW Media broadcasting divisions would eventually be merged, potentially also giving GS a sizable interest in Global and other Canwest channels (these plans became moot after Canwest's creditor protection filings).

Ramifications edit

Following Canwest seeking creditor protection in late 2009, Shaw Communications subsequently took over most of Alliance Atlantis's former broadcasting assets as of October 27, 2010. after CRTC approval for the sale was announced on October 22.[24] Alliance Atlantis (CW Media) became part of the Shaw Media division.[25] Corus Entertainment acquired Shaw Media on April 1, 2016.[26]

Entertainment One would later acquire Alliance Films on January 9, 2013 and all of their subsidiaries from Goldman Sachs Group, similar to the purchase of Maple Pictures a year prior.[27][28] eOne subsequently adopted the 2004 Alliance Atlantis fanfare, still in use by Alliance Films, for their own logo. On November 20, 2014, Echo Bridge Entertainment sold Alliance Atlantis' children's programs, including the international distribution rights to the Degrassi franchise, to DHX Media, with Sony Pictures Television holding syndication rights.[29] In 2017, producer Steven Paul announced that he would acquire the non-family assets of Echo Bridge Entertainment, including the international distribution rights to Alliance Atlantis' library (with the exception of its children's programs that are still owned by DHX Media/WildBrain) and later folded it into SP Releasing, in turn licensed most of Alliance Atlantis, Cineplex Odeon Films, Echo Bridge and PM Entertainment libraries to FilmRise for digital distribution and online streaming.[30] eOne in turn was acquired by U.S. toy maker Hasbro in 2019. On August 3, 2023, Hasbro announced that it would sell most of eOne's assets, including the copyrights and Canadian distribution rights to the library of Alliance Atlantis, to Lionsgate (which Hasbro attempted to acquire in 2017).[31] The deal closed on December 27, 2023.

Assets edit

Broadcasting edit

Specialty Channels

Websites

NOTE: Channels marked in BOLD lettering indicates Alliance Atlantis was the managing partner.

Cinemas edit

Alliance Atlantis owned a chain of cinemas called Alliance Cinemas. The chain owned movie theatres in British Columbia and Ontario and is based in Toronto.

Entertainment edit

This division of Alliance Atlantis developed and distributed various television programmes to Canadian, American and International broadcasters. The programs ranged from series, lifestyle and documentaries. Some documentaries were produced through the AAC Fact unit. Children's programs were produced through the AAC Kids unit; most of the AAC Kids library (with some exceptions) is now owned by WildBrain, with European distribution handled by Studio 100. They include:

AAC Kids edit

Comedy and drama programs edit

AAC Fact edit

Feature films edit

Short films edit

Alliance Films edit

Alliance Films was a major motion picture distribution/production company which serves Canada, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Formally known as Motion Picture Distribution LP, it was re branded and relaunched in 2007 due to the break-up of its preceding company, Alliance Atlantis, which was sold off piece by piece to Canwest Global, GS Capital Partners, along with several other smaller companies. Alliance Atlantis and Vivafilm home video releases were manufactured and distributed by NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Entertainment One (eOne) later acquired Alliance Films on January 9, 2013 for $225 million and merged Alliance Films and all of their subsidiaries under the latter brand.[32] Most of the assets of eOne, as well as Alliance Films libraries was subsequently bought by Lionsgate in late 2023.

References edit

  1. ^ Flavelle, Dana (May 3, 2010). "Shaw buying up TV assets". The Star. Toronto.
  2. ^ "Atlantis Films | Media Commons". Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  3. ^ Kelly, Brendan (1998-11-03). "Merged and mowed". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-08.
  4. ^ Carver, Benedict (1998-07-21). "Lantos dives head on into pic producing role". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-11.
  5. ^ Carver, Benedict (1998-11-23). "Lantos inks Alliance deal". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-11.
  6. ^ Kelly, Brendan (1998-11-03). "Merged and mowed". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-11.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Andy (September 18, 1998). "Odeon operating independently". Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  8. ^ Variety Staff (1999-08-02). "Kinowelt takes stake in Alliance Atlantis". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-08.
  9. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (2000-05-10). "Momentum rolls with 'Brother,' 'Bullwinkle'". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-08.
  10. ^ Kelly, Brendan (1999-10-07). "Destination, Alliance pact". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-11.
  11. ^ Adalian, Josef (2000-06-23). "Touchstone seeking exit from Eye deal". Variety. Retrieved 2021-08-06.
  12. ^ Schneider, Michael (2000-08-09). "Eye's maple-leaf alliance". Variety. Retrieved 2021-08-06.
  13. ^ Harris, Dana (2000-12-15). "Artisan, Alliance reup Canuck output deal". Variety. Retrieved 2023-12-16.
  14. ^ Tillson, Tamsen (1999-09-15). "Alliance Atlantis starts kids' label". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-10.
  15. ^ "Alliance Atlantis launches AAC Fact". Retrieved 2023-07-10.
  16. ^ Kelly, Brendan (2001-02-13). "Salter buy peppers Alliance prod'n". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-10.
  17. ^ "The suspence is killing us". The Globe and Mail. 2003-04-25. Retrieved 2023-07-10.
  18. ^ Kelly, Brendan (2000-04-07). "Just kidding around". Variety. Retrieved 2023-11-23.
  19. ^ Tillson, Tamsen (2005-10-04). "Fireworks blowout". Variety. Retrieved 2023-07-08.
  20. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2007 Canada's Top 100 Employers". Archived from the original on 2012-08-01.
  21. ^ "globeandmail.com: Business". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on January 9, 2009.
  22. ^ Guider, Elizabeth; Tillson, Tamsen (December 20, 2006). "CBS eyes a 'CSI' buyout". Variety.
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2008-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Shaw Communications (press release) (2010-10-22). "SHAW ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF CANWEST BROADCASTING ASSETS EXPECTED TO CLOSE OCTOBER 27, 2010". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-10-02. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  25. ^ "Shaw Communications closes purchase of Canwest TV assets, rebrands as Shaw Media". Winnipeg Free Press. The Canadian Press (via Winnipeg Free Press). 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-10-27.[dead link]
  26. ^ "Corus Entertainment Completes Acquisition of Shaw Media". Corus Entertainment. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  27. ^ "EOne confirms talks to buy Alliance Films". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  28. ^ NANCY TARTAGLIONE (2013-01-09). "EOne Completes Alliance Films Acquisition; Victor Loewy, Charles Layton Exit". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-07-11.
  29. ^ DHX Media acquires library of children's and family TV content
  30. ^ "Producer Steven Paul Buys Distributor Echo Bridge". Variety. January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2024.
  31. ^ Goldbart, Max (2023-08-03). "Hasbro Confirms Sale Of eOne To Lionsgate For $500M". Deadline. Retrieved 2023-08-03.
  32. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy. EOne Completes Alliance Films Acquisition; Victor Loewy, Charles Layton Exit. Deadline Hollywood (January 9, 2012)

External links edit