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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment rose nearly 6 per cent on Monday ahead of the opening of “The Hunger Games,” a movie that many expect to be as big as “Twilight.”THE SPARK: Box office analysts say “The Hunger Games” will open huge this weekend, confirming Lions Gate’s bet on the series and its acquisition of “Twilight” maker Summit Entertainment. Summit’s marketing muscle is expected to help boost the popularity of “The Hunger Games” among young adult fans.
Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian said “The Hunger Games” could have an opening weekend well above $100 million and might surpass the $116.1 million debut of 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which holds the record for best domestic premiere in March.
The movie opens in wide release overseas on Wednesday and in the U.S. on Friday.
THE ANALYSIS: Even after a run-up in Lions Gate’s shares following its $412.5 million acquisition of Summit for in January, Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz believes the stock should perform 25 per cent better than the overall market over the next 12 months.
He said “Hunger Games” and the finale of the “Twilight” series in November will generate significant cash flow.
Creutz expects “The Hunger Games” to pull in $225 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada alone, but said sales of $300 million or more domestically is “quite possible.”
THE BIG PICTURE: Lions Gate’s purchase of Summit in January brought together two smaller studios that are honing their focus on young adult audiences. By combining marketing forces, each studio’s films are expected to perform better. Although the “Twilight” series is nearing an end, “The Hunger Games” is envisioned as a four-part series that could generate big profits for years.
STOCK ACTION: Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. rose 78 cents to $13.99 in midday trading Monday. Since its acquisition of Summit was announced Jan. 13, the company’s shares are up 63 per cent.
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