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Lionsgate on ‘Mortdecai’: ‘It’s Clearly a Disappointment’

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer has asserted that Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” will be a “very manageable” loss for the studio despite the comedy’s weak box office performance.

“Obviously not all of our films work and last month’s ‘Mortdecai’ was clearly a disappointment,” Feltheimer told analysts Friday during the company’s conference call to discuss earnings for its third quarter ended Dec. 31.

“Mortdecai,” which carries a $60 million price tag, has underperformed significantly since its Jan. 23 launch with $7 million in U.S. box office. It’s grossed another $11 million internationally.

The exec noted that Lionsgate’s financing structure, which uses foreign pre-sales to limit its downside, has minimized the studio’s exposure along with an investment by Gigi Pritzker’s OddLot as part of their financing partnership. “Given the number of ways we limited our exposure including pre-licensing international rights, curtailing the marketing spend and taking on a production partner we will have incurred a very manageable loss,” he said.

Feltheimer has credited the financing model in the past with limiting Lionsgate’s average exposure per film to $13 million.

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The studio had high hopes for “Mortdecai” last year. Feltheimer told analysts last May that it was a potential franchise along with “Now You See Me,” “Gods of Egypt,” “American Ultra,” “Outliers,” “The Last Witch Hunter” and “Power Rangers.”

“Mortdcai” is the latest in a series of high-profile flops for Depp following “Transcendence,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Dark Shadows.” He’ll be seen next in September in Warner Bros.’ untitled project about gangster Whitey Bulger.

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