Lionsgate Shares 'Roar' in Advance of ‘Hunger Games’21 Mar, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Ticket seller Fandango says the top-selling franchise opener already has sold out 2,000 showtimes
Lionsgate’s usual moribund stock continued a meteoric surge in advance of the March 23 theatrical launch of probable blockbuster movie franchise The Hunger Games.
Shares of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based minimajor March 21 opened up 4% after closing March 20 at $15.28 per share — up 165% from a low of $5.76 per share last May. The stock is up nearly 31% in the past month. Lionsgate’s perennial anemic shares had been a catalyst for former investor Carl Icahn’s failed three-year takeover attempt, which ended last August when he sold his stake.
Lionsgate has bet its future on the first installment of a bestselling trio of novels by Suzanne Collins that targets the hugely loyal "Twilight" fan base. Starring Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Hunger Games features a post-apocalyptic world where male and female teens from 12 districts in the fictional country of Panem are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which there can only be one survivor.
Through March 19 Lionsgate had reportedly pre-sold more than 1 million Hunger movie tickets — a strong indication the film could generate almost $125 million its opening weekend, according to Deadline.com. Indeed, Fandango March 21 said The Hunger Games had already sold out 2,000 showtimes, making it the top-selling franchise opener in history. The movie is on track to generate about $300 million overall, according to analyst David Joyce with Millar Tabak & Co.
Box office numbers like that, coupled with an ardent female fan base, usually are gold to home entertainment. The four "Twilight" films, which have generated more than $1.5 billion together, have sold more than 30 million discs, according to The-Numbers.com.
Lionsgate earlier this year astutely acquired "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment with the last edition of the teen vampire franchise, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, still to hit theaters, in addition to recently released Breaking Dawn: Part 1 at retail.