Hunger Games Catching Fire

Analyst projects nearly $400 million in profit from title

Lionsgate’s upcoming “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is projected to gross $950 million in worldwide box office, according to a new Wall Street analyst’s report.

Alan Gould of Evercore predicted that the film, starring Jennifer Lawrence, will gross $375 million domestically and another $575 million internationally. Last year’s “The Hunger Games” grossed $408 million in the U.S. and another $283 million overseas.

“We are projecting almost $400 million of profit from ‘Catching Fire,’ the Hunger Games sequel, about half in FY14, vs. an estimated lifetime profit of $325 million from the original,” he said.

“Catching Fire” opens Nov. 22. The final two “Mockingjay” films will open in November, 2014 and November, 2015.

Gould issued the report Friday after the stock market closed with Lionsgate stock gaining 47 cents to $36.94. The stock has more than doubled in value this year — and is now at five times the $7 a share price that it paid to cash out Carl Icahn’s 38% stake in August, 2011.

Gould increased his price target to $42 and projected adjusted EBITDA growing to over $500 million in the 2016 fiscal year, up from $330 million last year. The estimate for fiscal year was lowered by a nickel, but raised for 2015 to $1.60 from $1.35 and for 2016 to $1.85 from $1.55 with Gould citing the “Hunger Games” franchise, improved international deals, better splits with domestic distributors, better home entertainment distribution deal, and media buying savings.

“Also, over the next three years we think it is likely that LGF further expands its TV division, particularly given the increased demand from the digital streaming companies, and could very possibly create new film franchises,” he added.

The report also said that last year’s $412 million buyout of Summit was more accretive than initially anticipated with the 11 Summit films acquired  grossing $175 million more than initially anticipated. Those films include “Now You See Me,” which has grossed over $317 million worldwide.

“Iron Man 3″ has been 2013’s top worldwide grosser with $1.2 billion, followed by “Despicable Me 2″ at $835 million.

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