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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little of the Old In And Out

In: Lionsgate. The multimedia studio, which posted an overall loss during its 2009 fiscal year, is rebounding. From Variety:

"At a time when other media and entertainment companies are reporting downbeat earnings, Lionsgate's numbers roared past analysts' expectations Monday with its second-best quarter ever amid growth in nearly every division.

"In first-quarter tallies for fiscal 2010, the company saw a profit of $36.3 million for the period ended June 30 vs. $3.5 million a year earlier. Revenues jumped 30% to $387.7 million from a year-earlier $298.5 million.

"Lionsgate was the hot stock on Wall Street on Monday. Shares ended the day up 49¢ (8.2%) to $6.46. The stock was up as much as 11% in after-hours trading.

TV production revs soared 112% thanks to cable shows that are continuing (Weeds, Tyler Perry's House of Payne) and new (Nurse Jackie). Lionsgate TV's Emmy-winning AMC drama Mad Men kicks off its third season on Sunday.

"Home entertainment revs dipped 6%, a smaller decline than at other studios. And the company's recent acquisitions, Mandate Pictures and TV Guide Network, are starting to pay off asbottom-line contributors."

At post time Lionsgate shares are up $0.07, or 1.08% at $6.53.

Out: Celebrities. Bright young Hollywood aint that bright. The death of Michael Jackson -- one of the first global celebrities -- underscored the dimness of the star wattage in the entertainment industry. Parallel to that, note the rise of non-celebrities like Jon & Kate and their unfortunate plus eight who have migrated from the cable ghetto onto the cover of Us Magazine, that culturally significant arbiter of early 21st century fame. For the first time in quite some time the so-called "A-List" is amorphous. Think about it: who is A-List? Will Smith certainly is, although he has had some recent clunkers. Is Tom Cruise? Although fabulously wealthy when was the last time he owned the box office (Valkyrie?)? Johnny Depp pretty much tanked in his disappointing Dillinger biopic.

But special effects and comic book movies are all the rage. From Bloomberg:

"Stars are losing some of their shine in Hollywood, not that any studio bosses have complained.

Of this year’s top five films, only Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen boasts a bona-fide star, Shia LaBeouf, whose credits include the last Indiana Jones picture and the thriller Eagle Eye. The biggest name in Walt Disney Co.’s animated Up, the year’s No. 2 film with $287.4 million in U.S. sales, is Ed Asner. The William Shatner-less Star Trek flew to $255.3 million in sales with a cast of mostly unknowns.

"'The celebrity of stars, which gave some certainty to the financial bigwigs, has shifted to franchises and sequels,' said Peter Guber, the former chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment. 'That’s where the certainty lies.'"

The interesting thing is that if one were pressed to name an A-Lister that everyone would agree on it would probably be President Obama, followed by the Clintons and maybe -- unfortunately -- Sarah Palin. None of them are in the entertainment industry.

Oh, and vampires. Vampires are very A-List right now (As the perfect metaphor for the debt society).

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