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Monday, March 26, 2012

Packed Theatres. Hunger Games Record Boxoffice. The Rock. James Cameron goes deep.Terminated coach lands at FOX (where else?)

The Skinny:I saw "The Hunger Games." It is "Survivor" meets "The Truman Show" with a little bit of "The Bachelorette" thrown in. Still, nothing like seeing a movie in a packed theater. Monday's headlines include the big box office take for "The Hunger Games," Dwayne Johnson's return to the wrestling ring and James Cameron's long trip.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here to access the latest industry news).

The Hunger Games

 Photo: "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate. 

Appetite fulfilled. As expected, Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" had a massive opening weekend, taking in $155 million. That is a new box office record for a non-sequel and behind only the last "Harry Potter" movie and "The Dark Night." About 61% of the audience for "The Hunger Games" were women. That's about 20% less than what the last "Twilight" film averaged. At the screening of "The Hunger Games" I attended, there was a fair amount of chuckling when a preview for the next "Twilight" movie was screened. Box office coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Movie City News and the New York Times.

HungerGamesBurnsLawrencePhoto: Lions Gate vice chairman Michael Burns and actress Jennifer Lawrence at the premiere of "The Hunger Games." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here to access the latest industry news).

More than $300 Million on profits for Liongate from "Hunger Games."
The blockbuster opening weekend of "The Hunger Games" — which debuted with an estimated $155 million — will ultimately lead to more than $300 million in profit for independent studio Lionsgate, analysts predicted Sunday.

And with three sequels to come, the franchise as a whole is expected to deliver $1.5 billion or more to the Santa Monica company's bottom line.

That's a significant success for Lionsgate, which has posted net losses in its last four fiscal years and struggled to up its game in film production. While it has scored with a variety of genre and prestige pictures like "Saw" and "Precious" and has a growing television division, the studio last year took losing bets on several high-profile flops, including "Conan the Barbarian" and the Taylor Lautner action-thriller "Abduction."

Media analyst Monica Dicenso of JP Morgan predicted that the first "Hunger Games" film will produce $310 million in profit and the series as a whole will generate $1.5 billion. James Marsh of Piper Jaffray said the numbers could be even higher, with more than $400 million from the first movie and $2-billion-plus for the entire series.

This weekend's release, which cost a little more than $80 million to make (after a tax break) and $45 million more to market, needed to reach about $100 million in domestic box office receipts to break even, according to a person familiar with the picture’s economics who was not authorized to speak publicly. The picture reached that milestone on Saturday.

The ultimate success of the franchise will depend largely on how the movie performs on DVD when it's no longer in theaters as well as the sales of licensed products.

Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns noted Sunday that he had just received an email informing him that "Hunger Games" T-shirts were already selling out in many Hot Topic chain stores.
"The panacea in the movie business is to find franchises," he said when asked to reflect on the meaning of "The Hunger Games" to the studio, which he and chief executive Jon Feltheimer have run since 2000.

"The idea that we can create some predictability around the most unpredictable part of our business is fantastic," he added.

There are several factors in Lions Gate's favor that should help the company generate even higher profits from the sequels than the first film. The movie's international opening, for instance, was solid but not spectacular, particularly outside of the English-speaking world, where author Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" novels are not as well known.

Just as the popular"Twilight" sequels did much better overseas than the original, the same might hold true for Lionsgate's new franchise.

In addition, with the success of the first film, Lionsgate will be in a position to demand more favorable terms from foreign distributors for the sequels. The independent studio does not handle the release of its movies outside of the U.S. and Great Britain.

One challenge the company faces, however, is the pending departure of motion picture group president Joe Drake. While Feltheimer gave the movie the greenlight, it was Drake and his team who oversaw the development, production and marketing.

Drake and several of his key executives are being replaced by the team from "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment, which Lionsgate acquired in January.

Lions Gate stock has more than doubled in value since September in part because of anticipation for "The Hunger Games" (as well as the exit of dissident shareholder Carl Icahn). The shares closed at $14.53 on Friday. But with the movie outperforming even the most optimistic expectations this weekend, they could rise again Monday.

The Daily Dose: Fox Broadcasting has indicated that it would consider hiring Sean Payton -- the New Orleans Saints coach who was suspended for the season as a result of his role in the team's bounty program that encouraged defensive players to take out opposing players -- for its broadcast coverage of the NFL. Such a move would not make the network any new friends at the NFL. After all, if the NFL has decreed that Payton's behavior has made him bad for football, it seems unlikely it would look kindly on anyone giving him a job where he would seemingly be a face of the league. "Our feeling about Sean is that he’s bright, articulate and obviously contemporary,” Lou D’Ermilio, a Fox spokesman, told the New York Times. “Any network with NFL rights would have to consider it.”

Ratings race.There is a shakeup going on in cable television viewing as many of the top-rated cable networks -- including Time Warner's TNT and Comcast's USA -- have seen their ratings take a dip this year. On the rise are the History Channel and AMC. Of course, the good thing about the cable business is that the programmers have long-term deals with distributors and often their subscriber fees are immune to fluctuations in their ratings. More on this year's cable numbers from the Wall Street Journal.

Layup for Lauer. Matt Lauer, lead anchor of NBC's morning news program "Today," appears to be in the driver's seat as he and NBC try to hammer out a new deal to keep him at the network. Lauer's contract is up at the end of the year. While ABC's "Good Morning America" has closed the gap on "Today," a loss of Lauer could easily give its No. 1 rival even more momentum. A look at Lauer's leverage from New York magazine.

Lightening his load. James Murdoch has resigned from boards affiliated with News Corp.'s British newspaper unit, which is currently under investigation for ethical abuses by lawmakers there. Next month, the Parliament committee investigating phone hacking and other wrongdoings by News Corp. tabloids is expected to release a report critical of Murdoch's handling of the situation. More from Bloomberg.

Double duty. Dwayne Johnson, who first rose to fame as the wrestler "The Rock" before leaving the WWE to become a movie star, is returning to the ring. Interestingly, Johnson is doing this when his box office star continues to rise, not because it has taken a tumble. Variety looks at Johnson's career strategy.

Can you hear me now? Director James Cameron ("Titanic," "Avatar"), best known for taking movies where no one has gone before, has now taken himself where no man has been before. Cameron dove to the deepest point on Earth in a special submarine. According to the Associated Press, Cameron reached a depth of almost 36,000 feet. Guess his favorite album is Van Halen's "Diver Down."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Randall Roberts on Madonna's latest release. James Rainey on celebrity profiles.

-- Joe Flint

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From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here to access the latest industry news).


iheartblog702 said...

The rock is the only known wrestler to leave wrestling behing for a while and attempt being an actor and he actually did very well. Glad to hear hes going back but id still love to see him in many new upcoming movies.

Anonymous said...

I thought The Hunger Games was incredible. I was highly impressed with the casting. I don't think it could've been better.

Erin Penman
Mon 6-8:50

Anonymous said...

I think "The Rock" can do anything with his career. His movies are a bit cheesy so I think wrestling will bring up his reputation a bit.

Erin Penman
Mon 6-8:50

Anonymous said...

The one thing I donot understand is why people are so keen on seeing the movies the first night it comes out. My boyfriend wants to go see the Avengers Thursday at midnight which I dont understand. Comsidering he is probably going to fall asleep..... But I would rather wait until I know that there are not going to be many people there... Like a month after it comes out.....

Nicole Baxter COM 101-4080

Berenice said...

the rock is funny guy but i dont know why he left wwe and he came back. i dont think is worth it to come back.

Cameron Rand com101 4044 said...

If FOX was to hire Sean Payton after what he did, would be a slap in the face to the NFL commitee. FOX needs to just let Payton take his penalty.

Anonymous said...

It's so upsetting to see the controversy over the character Rue in the Hunger Games. I know it wasn't really mentioned here but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Taylor Bishop
Com 101