Lionsgate Analysts Bullish After 'Catching Fire' Weekend Box-Office Haul

TORONTO – Lionsgate analysts were upbeat Monday despite shares in the mini-studio sliding after a massive opening for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

"We believe the solid Catching Fire performance keeps Lionsgate on track to meet or exceed our current earnings estimate," Cowen and Co. analysts Doug Creutz and Stephen Glagola said in an investors note issued as shares in Lionsgate fell $2.65, or nearly 8 percent, to $31.10 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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The Catching Fire sequel brought in $161.1 million on its opening weekend, and $307.7 million with its global opening, beating the $211.8 million debut for The Hunger Games in March 2012.

But the film's performance failed to match prerelease domestic box-office forecasts in the $170 million range.

"Regardless of opening weekend data points, we believe it's important to remind investors that it's not how you start that matters, but how you finish," David Miller, an analyst at B. Riley Caris, said in his investors note issued Monday.

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Miller added that Catching Fire was one-third the way toward his gross box-office estimate of $900 million after its opening weekend.

Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities, said Catching Fire breaking out overseas underlined how the Hunger Games sequel came out of its opening weekend with momentum.

"Good legs despite such a massive opening could be suggested by the 16 percent Friday to Saturday uptick, stellar critical reviews, and the A CinemaScore," Harrigan told investors in his note.

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