Fourth pic set to be franchise's highest earner
In their first announcement as heads of Lionsgate’s motion picture group, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger revealed that the fourth “Twilight” film has passed $700 million in worldwide grosses.The duo said “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ will become the highest earner of the franchise so far, surpassing the $709.8 million worldwide cume from the third pic, “New Moon.” This gives the vampire tentpoles a combined worldwide gross of $2.5 billion with the finale, “Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” due out Nov. 16. “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” which hasn’t yet opened theaterically in China and Japan, will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on Feb. 11. Wall Streeters expect Summit’s “Twilight” franchise to inject $500 million of fresh cash into Lionsgate over the next five years. Lionsgate announced Friday that Friedman and Wachsberger had agreed to run the movie division as co-chairmen, a week after Lionsgate completed its $412.5 million acquisition of Summit. Joe Drake, prexy of Lionsgate’s motion picture group, agreed to stay on through the release of Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” on March 23 before departing. Friedman and Wachsberger now report to Lionsgate co-chair and CEO Jon Feltheimer, who’s indicated that some consolidation will take place. The combined company has about 500 Lionsgate employees and 160 from Summit. Moody’s Investors Service said Friday that Lionsgate’s credit rating was being reviewed for a possible upgrade following the Summit buyout. Standard & Poors announced two days earlier it was considering upgrading its Lionsgate rating. Lionsgate shares bounced 9% higher following the Jan. 13 deal announcement. They closed Thursday at $9.48 before retreating Friday to $9.36.