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Lionsgate releasing

Largest indie film player tries to continue growth

B.O.: $285 million

Top pic: “Saw III,” $80 million

Exec suite: Tom Ortenberg, prexy; Steve Rothenberg, president of distribution; Tim Palen and Sarah Greenberg, co-presidents, marketing

Analysis: The largest indie film player has hit some new highs but also some new lows as it uses new financing and strategic dealmaking to stay in growth mode. Overall B.O. has lagged in 2007 and only a big finish will allow Lionsgate to continue its streak of three straight years of $300 million-plus in the till. On the plus side, “Saw” is horror’s top franchise, made for a song and punching up huge numbers in theaters and on DVD. The fourth installment is due at Halloween. Kudos-wise, the company has “Away From Her” and “3:10 to Yuma” attracting buzz. But it’s been a long slog of wide openers with dreary results, among them “Bratz,” “Delta Farce” and “Hostel: Part II.” Because of the company’s intense financial discipline, though, downside risk is minimal and the past six duds have cost the company just $15 million in losses, according to vice chairman Michael Burns. Along with CEO Jon Feltheimer, Burns has engineered a series of telling deals that give Lionsgate momentum. It took minority stakes in distrib Roadside Attractions and male-skewing video site Break.com and finalized talks with Mandate Pictures in a takeover that would see topper Joe Drake come on board as a film-focused exec.

Up next:

  • “Good Luck Chuck,” Sept. 21

  • “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?” Oct. 12

  • “Saw IV,” Oct. 26

  • “Thomas Kinkade’s The Christmas Cottage,” Nov. 30

  • “The Eye,” Feb. 1, 2008

  • “College,” January 2008

  • “Foodfight!” April 11, 2008

  • “The Forbidden Kingdom,” April 18, 2008

  • “The Spirit,” Jan. 16, 2009

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