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Theaters Have A <I>Monster&#39;s Ball</I>

2 Apr, 2002 By: Hive News

Propelled by Halle Berry's groundbreaking Academy Award for Best Actress, Lions Gate Films' powerful hit drama Monster's Ball generated $2 million-plus at the North American box office last weekend, a 32 percent increase over its performance the previous weekend, a Lions Gate Entertainment spokesperson said today.

Monster's Ball's "Oscar bump" at the box office was the largest gain of any film in the top 20 and the biggest increase of any film winning a major Academy Award, the spokesperson said. The $2 million-plus performance on 676 screens (up from 543 the prior weekend) gives Monster's Balla cumulative North American box office tally of approximately $23 million to date, making it Lions Gate's most successful in-house production ever.

"This is exactly the boost from Halle's Oscar victory we were hoping for,'' said Tom Ortenberg, President of Lions Gate Films Releasing. "It is clear that Halle Berry's brilliant and evocative performance as an actress has struck a responsive chord with moviegoers, and Halle's landmark personal triumph has touched the American psyche."

More important for Lions Gate, however, is the bump analysts say the company's stock is likely to get from the movie's success and the anticipated profits when the video is released June 11.

While a single hit isn't enough to move the needle at most of the major studios, most of Lions Gate's movies cost less than $15 million to make, so a hit can have a much greater impact on the studio's profits.

"Monster's Ball is a big success; per share, this is significant," media and entertainment analyst David Brenner, of Arnhold and Bleichroeder, told CBS Marketwatch. "The film will definitely show up as a big positive, whereas it would be lost on a Vivendi or an AOL."

The benefit is not, however, lost on Lions Gate executives, who hope the movie's success will help it attract more top-flight talent for future films.

"Monster's Ball continues to gain momentum at the box office, thanks to the superb efforts and timing of our motion picture team," said Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer. "The strong performance of Monster's Ball is further enhancing our ability to attract A-list talent to our upcoming slate and, as the film moves through its downstream markets, it will translate into significant added value for our shareholders."

Since the Oscar buzz began in mid-March, Lions Gate shares have risen more than 10 percent, Marketwatch noted. Some revenue from the movie will appear in Lions Gate year-end earnings through March 31, with the balance reported in the 2002 first quarter earnings release in August.

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