Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The current company was formed in 1998 from the merger of two former production companies, Alliance Communications and Atlantis Communications. 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. (The merger was also parodied on Made in Canada, when that show's Pyramid Productions merged with a company called Prodigy.)
It has been known to fund projects regarded as too controversial by US companies, such as Bowling for Columbine; it was Canadian distributor of Fahrenheit 9-11. The company also purchased the now defunct Salter Street Films, which produced a number of television shows for both the Canadian and international market, such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
Citing lower profits, it has all but closed its production arm, aside from the aforementioned 22 Minutes and the highly-profitable CSI: Crime Scene Investigation family of series, which it co-produces with CBS Productions. It continues to be one of Canada's largest movie distributors through its partially owned Motion Picture Distribution LP unit, which distributes the libraries of Miramax and New Line Cinema, among others.
Its primary business is now through its ownership of a number of Canadian cable and digital television channels such as History Television, Life Network, and Showcase, along with BBC Canada and BBC Kids. In some cities the company also operates movie theaters in partnership with Viacom's Famous Players unit.
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