S1E8: Jim Packer – Roar of the Lionsgate: Lessons from the Movie Business

Leeds Business Insights

May 18 2022 • 32 mins

The experience of watching movies has changed a lot – from rewinding VHSs to getting DVDs in the mail to streaming. How do businesses in the industry adapt, and even get ahead of the trends?

Jim Packer is President of Worldwide Television and Digital Distribution at Lionsgate. As president of worldwide television distribution, he directs Lionsgate strategies for capitalizing on evolving distribution and licensing opportunities in a fast-changing global market.

He talked to Leeds Business Insights how streaming has changed what movies and shows we watch, the lessons he’s learned from navigating those changes – and how they can be applied to other industries, as well.


On the future of movie theaters

[00:02:04] I don't believe people will stop going back to the movies. I think people will be selective and they'll change their habits as they go along. I went to my first movie with my family to go see the Spider-Man movie. I had not been to a movie theater in two years. So I will say that I loved it. That experience is great, that companionship, and that exciting moment when that movie starts and you start that journey is why I got into the business and why I think people will go back to the movie theaters when they're comfortable.

On staying ahead of changes in consumer behavior

[00:09:18] If you were to say, “Would you rather be too early or would you rather be late?” I'd rather be early. And I have been early in a number of the ventures that I pushed through the company and ways that we license….Sometimes you are too early, but if you wait and you're late, you can sometimes miss a trend, and then it's a little bit harder to get deals done or product out in the marketplace.

On implementing lessons from recent pandemic problems

[00:26:17] The supply chain problems have got tentacles that go in a thousand different ways. We are just facing the ripple. We've tossed a rock in the pond, and all of a sudden, this ripple is playing out, and it's making us rethink. My fear is that you let things alone for too long, that ripple will die out, and it'll be back to business as usual until something else happens. And I guarantee something else will happen. It’s just a matter of time.

On how streaming has made for a more global viewing experience

[00:16:11] I got my first experience with that phenomenon with a TV show that was done for Spike called Blue Mountain State. It was a bunch of fraternity football people, you know, R-rate, and American football – as crazy American football as you could ever get. We sold it to Netflix and ultimately it ran in multiple countries all over the world. Nobody thought that American football would take off at all because the real football happens over there, not American football. And then we did a sequel movie, a two-hour movie that we distributed internationally. And all of a sudden, I remember looking at the Apple chart, and this Blue Mountain State movie was number one in places like Sweden and Norway and all these countries. And I'm like, I don't understand that. This is an American football movie. But what it showed is that in Norway, in Sweden, they had watched Blue Mountain State on Netflix because they didn't have to pay for it; it was part of their subscription. It had dubbing or it had subtitles and they got into it and they said, oh, this is kind of interesting. People get the ability to get serviced up content that they might not normally see. And because they don't have to make a buying decision on every piece of content, you can sample something. And I think that’s one of the real benefits.


Guest’s Profile:

Faculty Profile at Leeds School of Business

Jim Packer on LinkedIn