Domestic distribution report
B.O. cume: $142 million
Toppers: Tom Ortenberg, prexy, LGF Releasing; Peter Block, prexy, acquisitions, TV & co-productions; Mike Paseornak, prexy, production
Upcoming releases: “Lord of War” (Sept. 16), “Waiting” (Oct. 7), “Saw II” (Oct. 28), “Three Extremes” (Oct. 28), “In the Mix” (Nov. 23), “Hard Candy” (Dec. 23)
Analysis: The indie giant more than doubled its revenues in fiscal 2005 with low-budget hits “Saw,” “Open Water” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” It also is making good on its commitment to urban films: The company turned “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” into a mainstream success; it will release African-American comedy “In the Mix” this Thanksgiving; and recently pacted with LL Cool J on a multipic deal. But the “anti-studio,” as execs like to call Lions Gate, got its biggest boost with the wide release of the racially-charged “Crash.” The risky distribution strategy pushed the pic past $52 million, making it not only the most successful Lions Gate film this year, but also the most critically acclaimed and its hottest Oscar contender. Summer’s other pics, “High Tension,” “Rize” and “Happy Endings” failed to follow suit.
Meanwhile, the company is committed to cashing in on its triumphs. The sequel to horror-thriller “Saw” hits theaters this fall, and the company inked a deal with Marvel to produce “Iron Fist,” “The Black Widow” and a “Punisher” follow-up.