Lionsgate Analysts Upbeat After 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay' Weekend Box-Office Haul

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Still 8 - H 2014
Courtesy of Lionsgate

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Still 8 - H 2014

The Jennifer Lawrence sequel hit a franchise record of $275 million globally but failed to catch fire domestically

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 topped the North American box office this weekend, but the film's $123 million domestic total was lower than the opening grosses for previous films in the series.

Yet Lionsgate analysts remained bullish Monday despite shares in the mini-studio continuing to fall. Matthew Harrigan, a media and entertainment analyst at Wunderlich Securities, reiterated a $37 share price target for Lionsgate as he looked to the upside from expanding international TV sales offsetting "franchise fatigue" for Lionsgate's YA film property.

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"Television now appears to be emerging as an increasingly credible barbell complement to film, with Lionsgate now a pervasive presence across the global TV ecosystem," Harrigan wrote in an investment note. B. Riley analyst Craig Ellis on Monday predicted the Mockingjay box office "could gain steam post-weather delay" and into the Thanksgiving break and added that the overseas "outperformance" could drive the total box office to an original $850 million estimate.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire earned $864.6 million globally, including $439.9 million internationally. The Hunger Games in March 2012 opened to $152.5 million on its way to global earnings of $691.2 million.

Francis Lawrence's Mockingjay, based on Suzanne Collins' blockbuster trilogy, grabbed an impressive $275 million globally in its opening weekend, but the movie's domestic haul was down 22 percent from the $158.1 million debut of Catching Fire last year and 19 percent from the $152.5 million launch of The Hunger Games.

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The first half of the Hunger Games series' final installment stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Lionsgate decided to split Collins' final book in the Hunger Games trilogy into two films, just as it did with the final book in the Twilight series.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 is set to be released on Nov. 20, 2015. Stock in Lionsgate on Monday opened sharply down on the New York Stock Exchange before recovering to trade at $32.75 in midmorning trading, down $0.50 or 1.5 percent.