Drop is an improvement over last year's loss

Lionsgate Entertainment, which is eyeing a purchase of the Miramax archive from Disney, is proving just how valuable a library can be to a distributor’s bottomline.

Without any major new releases, Lionsgate earned $95 million from its vast catalog of movies and TV shows during its third quarter, which ended Dec. 31, representing the company’s best quarter for library sales.

The library consists of 12,000 films and TV shows that serve as “an important source of recurring revenue” and “the foundation for the growth of the company’s core businesses,” Lionsgate said in a statement.

But it was Lionsgate’s television business that saw significant gains, up 32% over last year’s quarter to generate nearly $92 million. It licensed “Blue Mountain State” to Spike TV, “Mad Men” to AMC, “Crash” to Starz and “Nurse Jackie” to Showtime during the period and distribbed “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” its spinoff “Meet the Browns” and “The Wendy Williams Show” through Debmar-Mercury. TV arm also earned $29 million from the recently acquired TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com.

Lionsgate owns a 51% stake in TV Guide, while One Equity Partners owns 49%.

Despite the increases, Lionsgate still reported a loss of nearly $66 million from a 15% increase in revenue that came in at $372 million. But that’s an improvement over a loss of nearly $98 million from the same period a year ago.

The film division released just three pics — “Precious,” “Brothers” and a sixth installment in its “Saw” franchise — during the quarter, earning the company $49 million. It released five pics during the period last year.

It’s already spent $26 million in marketing costs for films that will be released in the upcoming months.

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