‘Twilight’ endures for Lionsgate

An estimated 3.85 million DVD and Blu-ray units sold

Showing continued strength of the “Twilight” franchise, Lionsgate has sold an estimated 3.85 million DVD and Blu-ray units of its fifth and final “Twilight” film in its first weekend of release — an increase over the fourth film.

The studio said Blu-ray sales accounted for 27% of weekend sales of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” up from 22% of the first weekend sales of “Breaking Dawn — Part 1.”

Lionsgate also said the film recorded approximately 20% more electronic sell-through transactions than “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” which it called “early indications of a robust VOD performance as well.”

Lionsgate’s Ron Schwarts, exec VP and general manager of home entertainment, said in a statement: “Consumer demand for ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2’ reflects strength in all segments of the home entertainment marketplace — packaged media, digital and on demand. This is further proof that author Stephenie Meyer has created a timeless classic that moviegoers want to enjoy over and over in a wide variety of formats.”

The launch included midnight retail events at more than 3,000 stores across the country. The fifth film has grossed $829 million at the worldwide box office, bringing the five films worldwide gross to more than $3.3 billion.

Wall Street has remained bullish on Lionsgate as shares set another all-time high Monday. The issue edged down 6¢ Tuesday to $22.06. The stock has reached more than a dozen record high closes this year.

The DVD release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” caps a franchise that’s generated sales of 50 million DVD and Blu-ray copies for the first four films. The stock is now trading at nearly triple the price of $8.60 a share in January 2012, when Lionsgate bought Summit Entertainment — originator of the “Twilight” franchise — for $412.5 million.

The company’s most recent earnings report easily topped Wall Street estimates thanks to the final “Twilight” film with earnings of $37.8 million, or 28¢ a share, on revenues of $743.6 million and EBITDA of $87.2 million for its third quarter ended Dec. 31.

Analysts have expressed confidence that Lionsgate will be able to mirror the success of launching more young-adult franchises and cited efforts to leverage its content into digital media initiatives; strengthening Lionsgate’s capital structure, including the recent completion of a new five-year, $800 million revolving credit facility.

Lionsgate has also maintained continuity in its management team with several recent deals announced — chief financial officer James Keegan, Michael Burns as vice chair, Wayne Levin as general counsel and chief strategic officer, Brian Goldsmith as co-chief operating officer, and Jason Constantine as prexy of acquisitions and co-prod’n for its motion picture group.

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