Driven by a 53% margin in its motion picture business, Lions Gate Entertainment (LGE) has reported a 30% increase in second quarter revenue over the same period last year, from $59.7m to $77.8m. Six-month figures were better still, with revenues up 64% from $104.9m in 2001 to $172.1m this year. The company continues to pay down its debt ; yesterday it announced a transaction involving the sale of its 45% equity interest in Mandalay Pictures from which it expects to generate $7.5m.
In a wide-ranging and upbeat analyst conference call, LGE CEO Jon Feltheimer said that Lions Gate Film titles Lovely And Amazing and Secretary performed beyond expectation at the theatrical box office and Frailty, release theatrically in Spring 2002, did well on video. Feltheimer pointed to Oscar hopes for Secretary co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal and Lovely's Emily Mortimer for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. On the deficit side, Feltheimer referred to the disappointing box office performance of Rules Of Attraction as a "pretty good miss". The company lost $1.7m on the film, which was released October 11.
Feltheimer said the company enjoyed its strongest-ever MIFED, selling $20m in licenses for such upcoming titles as James Foley's Confidence, starring Dustin Hoffman and Ed Burns; Godsend, starring Robert De Niro and Greg Kinnear; Wonderland, starring Val Kilmer; Shattered Glass, starring Hayden Christensen; and House Of 1,000 Corpses. He said the company's a la carte sales strategy and reputation for delivering a diverse slate of quality pictures was proof that the era of the output deal is dead.
On the production side, Feltheimer employed a baseball analogy, saying the company does not have a "home-run" mentality but rather will concentrate on hitting "singles and doubles", projects with minimal downside risk. He reiterated the strategy of identifying projects that so appeal to major stars that said stars will accept as little as one-quarter their standard fee. Given the $15m budget of Godsend, clearly Robert De Niro took a major pay cut. 29:29 Productions is funding 50% of Godsend.
Looking ahead, Feltheimer said that Halle Berry, whose career was given a major boost by the LGF-backed Monster's Ball, is in discussion on two pictures with the company. He noted that the film has greatly expanded LGF's profile and access with the major agencies and other talent representatives.