Lionsgate (LGF) , the studio behind franchise films Twilight and The Hunger Games, has contacted Viacom (VIAB - Get Report) executives about taking a minority stake in Viacom's Paramount studio, according to two people with knowledge of the overtures.
Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman told investors recently the company was weighing offers to sell a minority share in the venerable studio that makes the film series Transformers, Mission Impossible and Star Trek.
Viacom, which is selling a slice of the studio in a bid to mollify investors in the wake of weakening earnings and share price, is looking for a strategic partner and has expressions of interest from three dozen companies, Dauman recently told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
The company has fielded proposals that range from 25 percent to 35 percent for the studio that is believed to be valued in total at more than $5 billion. The company expects to complete an agreement by the end of June, Dauman said. Spokesmen for both Lionsgate and Viacom had no comment.
The two companies are already partners in the premium cable movie service EPIX, along with a third studio partner, MGM (MGM - Get Report) . Rob Friedman, the co-chairman of Lionsgate's motion picture group, is a former Paramount vice-chairman and chief operating officer.
Moreover, Lionsgate could provide some key synergies for Paramount both internationally and through its digital technology prowess, two areas considered important in Viacom's search for an investor.
Lionsgate is considered among Hollywood's most adept digital marketers of its films. It also recently announced partnerships with both Tribeca Enterprises and Comic-Con International to launch video on-demand subscription services. In China it distributes its films through a subscription steaming service via an exclusive relationship with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba (BABA - Get Report) .
Lionsgate has historically been one of Hollywood's most acquisitive and deal-minded companies. In 2010, it made an aborted bid to buy MGM and in 2012 it acquired Twilight and Hunger Games producer Summit Entertainment.
Cable billionaire John Malone, who has a history of creating value out of putting companies together, is believed to be a key architect of Lionsgate's interest in Paramount. Malone is a Lionsgate board member and controls a nearly 7 percent stake in the company through two of his companies.
Share of Lionsgate are down about 37% so far this year.
A possible investment by Lionsgate would come as it is in the midst of a dry spell and searching for another franchise film to take the place of its Twilight and Hunger Games franchises, both of which have completed their anticipated installments.
Allegiant, the third film based on the Divergent novel series, was considered a disappointment with just $137 million in worldwide ticket sales.