'Hunger Games' Fattens Cineplex's Profit Line

'The Hunger Games'

Suzanne Collins' massively popular trilogy made its big screen foray in 2012 with the premiere of The Hunger Games. Top-lined by a critically adored Jennifer Lawrence, Lionsgate's franchise-starter brought in a record-breaking $152 million domestic haul in its first weekend alone. That made it the third highest-grossing opening weekend of all time and the best for a non-sequel.

The Canadian exhibition giant saw its first quarter buoyed by the Lionsgate teen tentpole, and is forecasting a strong second quarter with "The Avengers" currently on screens.

TORONTO – Screening The Hunger Games has fattened the bottom line at Cineplex.

The Canadian exhibition giant on Thursday said first quarter attendance at its theaters jumped 12 percent to 17.1 million as Lionsgate’s teen tentpole had the third-largest opening weekend ever for the Canadian market.

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That in turn fueled a 12 percent increase in overall revenue to $248.2 million, and first quarter earnings of $15.1 million, a swing from a small loss of $800,000 in 2011.

Box office revenue was up 15 percent to $149.4 million during the latest quarter, while concession revenue jumped 18.2 percent to $77 million.

Other box office performers for Cineplex during the first quarter included Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, each higher profile pics than The King’s Speech and The Green Hornet, which screened during the first quarter of 2011.

And with The Avengers bursting the $200 million opening weekend barrier, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob anticipates a strong second quarter to June 30, 2012.

Jacob said The Avengers opened stronger than The Hunger Games in North America, but is currently tracking in line with how the Lionsgate blockbuster has performed.

He’s also anticipating strong box office from Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Men in Black 3 and Rock of Ages, starring Tom Cruise.