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Moore docu fires up profit for Lions Gate

Pic brought in most of domestic B.O. take in 2nd quarter

HOLLYWOOD — Michael Moore helped Lions Gate turn back to the black last quarter.

Indie powerhouse saw a 205% increase in its motion picture revenue to $202.8 million thanks in large part to Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which it co-distribbed. Pic brought in about two-thirds of its $119 million domestic B.O. take during the second quarter starting July 1.

Vancouver and Santa Monica-based company also scored with “Open Water,” which it bought for $2.2 million at Sundance. Pic has brought in more than $30 million in the U.S. DVD biz was strong as well, thanks to successful releases of “The Punisher,” the third season of “Will & Grace” and “Alf.”

TV revenue was up 8% to $26.9 million, assisted by cable series “The Dead Zone” and “Missing.”

“This quarter is an excellent example of the Lions Gate model,” said CEO Jon Feltheimer. “We have profitable revenue drivers in all our core businesses continuing to build the deepest content library in the independent space.”

Net income was $8.3 million, up from a $300,000 loss in the same quarter a year ago.

Company’s investor conference call is skedded for today and it didn’t provide any guidance for the fourth quarter, but Feltheimer noted that “Saw” should help the studio continue its healthy performance.

Exec previously said Lions Gate would end 2004 with a healthy profit, despite starting the year with a continuation of its recent pattern of red ink.

Debt-laded company, which acquired Artisan for $160 million last year, ended the third quarter Sept. 30 with just $5.5 million in cash and more than $262 million in bank loans and $83 million in long-term debt, though its loans were paid down by about $30 million from June 30.

Lions Gate recently said it will raise between $125 million and $150 million in the current quarter and dedicate the funds primarily to paying off debt.

Company’s U.S. shares closed up 3% at $10.19 on Tuesday before earnings were announced, then rose further in after-hours trading.

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