|Founded||Toronto, Ontario (1998) as merger of Alliance Communications (founded in 1985) and Atlantis (founded in 1985)
Santa Monica, California
|Defunct||February 6, 2008|
Santa Monica, California
Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. (formerly traded as TSX:AAC) was a Toronto-based Canadian
American 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 was acquired by Canwest Global Communications and an affiliate of Goldman Sachs in 2007. The movie business now operates independently as Alliance Films, headquartered in Montreal, and the international television distribution businesses is now owned by Echo Bridge Entertainment.
All of the former Alliance Atlantis specialty networks are now owned by Shaw Communications through its Shaw Media Division (formerly CW Media) as of October 27, 2010. The films division was later acquired by Entertainment One group and has molded into eOne on January 9, 2013.
Formation and history
Alliance Atlantis was formed in 1998 from the merger of two former production companies, Alliance Communications and Atlantis Communications, both founded in 1985. The merger was a bit unusual in that the head of Atlantis, Michael MacMillan, became CEO of the new firm even though Atlantis was the smaller partner in the transaction; Alliance's CEO, Robert Lantos, was specifically interested in moving back into a production role. 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.)
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. Atlantis had also been a major investor in YTV in its first few years before selling out to what is now Corus Entertainment.
In 2003, 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 has all but closed 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, now include Food Network, Discovery Health (now Twist TV), BBC Canada, BBC Kids and more.
Sale to Canwest / Goldman Sachs
On December 20, 2006, the company announced it was "exploring strategic alternatives", effectively putting the company up for sale. Expected bidders included Canwest Global, Corus Entertainment, Astral Media, and Rogers Communications. The rights to CSI were expected to be sold separately, with CBS as the most likely bidder. A similar announcement was made previously regarding the Motion Picture Distribution unit, which is also expected to be sold separately.
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 company was broken up as follows:
- 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 gained Alliance Atlantis' international distribution rights to the programs.
- Motion Picture Distribution, including its publicly traded income fund, was acquired by Canadian-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 and "Alliance Vivafilm" for French releases.
- 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).
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. Alliance Atlantis (CW Media) is now part of the new Shaw Media division.
- BBC Canada (80%)
- BBC Kids (80%) (Now owned by Knowledge BC)
- Discovery Health Canada (80%) (Now Twist TV)
- Fine Living Canada (80.24%) (Now DIY Network Canada)
- Food Network Canada (57.58%)
- HGTV Canada (80.24%)
- History Television (Now History Canada)
- IFC Canada
- National Geographic Channel Canada (80%)
- Showcase Action (Now Action)
- Showcase Diva (Now Lifetime Canada)
- Historia (50%)
- One (37.77%) (Now owned by ZoomerMedia)
- SCREAM (49%) (now defunct; last known as Dusk)
- Séries+ (50%)
NOTE: Channels marked in BOLD lettering indicates Alliance Atlantis was the managing partner.
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. Children's shows were produced through the AAC Kids unit. They include:
- Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001–2007)
- Dragon Booster (2004)
- Instant Star (2004-2007)
- Connie the Cow
- Henry's World
- Lunar Jim
- The Famous Jett Jackson (1998–2001)
- In a Heartbeat (2000–2001)
- I Was a Sixth Grade Alien (1999-2001)
- Beast Wars: Transformers (1996-1999)
- ReBoot (1994-2001)
- Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002)
- Cold Squad (1998-2005)
- Little Men (1998-1999)
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–2007)
- Haven (TV miniseries) (2001)
- The Associates (2001-2002)
- CSI: Miami (2002-2007)
- The Eleventh Hour (2002-2005)
- CSI: NY (2004-2007)
- Due South (1997-1999)
- Power Play (1998-2000)
Other Programs
- Holmes on Homes
- Crash Test Mommy
- The Mom Show
- Design Inc.
- David Rocco's Dolce Vita
- Opening Soon
- The Surreal Gourmet
- Debbie Travis' Facelift
- The Crocodile Hunter
Alliance Atlantis also produced some French-language programming—both original shows and dubbed versions of its English output—under the Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm banner.
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 Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
- Flavelle, Dana (May 3, 2010). "Shaw buying up TV assets". The Star (Toronto).
- "Reasons for Selection, 2007 Canada's Top 100 Employers".
- "globeandmail.com: Business". The Globe and Mail (Toronto).[dead link]
- Guider, Elizabeth; Tillson, Tamsen (December 20, 2006). "CBS eyes a 'CSI' buyout". Variety.
- Shaw Communications (press release) (2010-10-22). "SHAW ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF CANWEST BROADCASTING ASSETS EXPECTED TO CLOSE OCTOBER 27, 2010". Retrieved 2010-10-23.
- "Shaw Communications closes purchase of Canwest TV assets, rebrands as Shaw Media". The Canadian Press (via Winnipeg Free Press). 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-10-27.[dead link]
- EOne confirms talks to buy Alliance Films
- Tartaglione, Nancy. EOne Completes Alliance Films Acquisition; Victor Loewy, Charles Layton Exit. Deadline.com (January 9, 2012)