Lionsgate thins red ink in Q3

TV production fuels 15% revenue gain

TORONTO -- Indie studio Lionsgate said Tuesday that it narrowed its fiscal third-quarter loss to $65.3 million from $97.8 million in 2009.

On a per-share basis, Vancouver-based Lionsgate posted a loss of 55 cents for the three months ending Dec. 31, against 84 cents last year.

Overall third-quarter revenue rose 15% to $371.8 million from $324 million last year as Lionsgate recorded higher TV production revenue and $29.3 million in revenue from newly acquired TV Guide Network and

But as much as Lionsgate continues to fashion itself as a TV play, steep theatrical distribution and marketing costs on movies continue to take a toll on its bottom line.

Overall distribution and market costs during the latest quarter were $160.3 million, including $26 million in marketing costs for films that will be released in the fourth quarter or beyond, against a year-earlier $170.4 million.

Revenue from Mandate Pictures jumped 55% to $12.9 million, with "Drag Me to Hell" and "Whip" proving major drivers.

Overall motion picture revenue during the third quarter fell 2% to $251 million. Within that segment, theatrical revenue fell 29% to $49.4 million as Lionsgate released "Precious," "Brothers" and "Saw VI" in the latest frame, against five releases in the third quarter of 2009.

Lionsgate's home entertainment revenue in the motion picture segment was virtually unchanged at $95 million, with no major new theatrical titles released in the quarter.

The distributor said most of its home entertainment revenue in the third quarter came from its filmed entertainment library.

TV revenue in the motion picture segment rose 40% to $54.7 million.

And TV production revenue overall rose 32% to $91.5 million in the third quarter, on deliveries of 13 episodes of "Blue Mountain State" to Spike TV, five episodes of "Mad Men" to AMC, eight episodes of "Crash" for Starz and two episodes of "Nurse Jackie" for Showtime.

That helped offset international revenue off 9% to $37.5 million, with major contributions from "Brothers," "My Bloody Valentine 3D" and "Saw VI."

Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer said the company remains "on track" to meet its full-year 2010 guidance.

"We were particularly pleased to achieve record library revenues in a challenging home entertainment environment, a continuation of strong growth in all areas of our television business and significant progress in our channel investments," he said. "Coupled with a film slate that we plan to expand and diversify next year, we believe that our core and newer businesses combine to give us excellent momentum."

Lionsgate senior management will hold an analyst call Wednesday to discuss third-quarter results.