After dipping, Lionsgate stock up Monday on 'Divergent' performance

After dipping, Lionsgate stock up Monday on 'Divergent' performance
Lionsgate's "Divergent" -- with Maggie Q, left, and Shailene Woodley -- was released Friday. (Jaap Buitendijk / Associated Press)

In Hollywood, movie studios aren't just beholden to box-office analysts' expectations -- they also face the scrutiny of Wall Street and its interpretation of whether a given picture met those observers' predictions.

Shares of Lionsgate were up more than 4% in midday trading on Monday after the Santa Monica film and television studio's latest film, "Divergent," met analysts' expectations at the box office.

"Divergent," based on the the first book in the young adult trilogy of the same name, took in $56 million over its opening weekend, winning the three-day period by a wide margin.


And perhaps most important for Wall Street -- that debut performance was in line with analysts' predictions.

The Times reported on Thursday that the film was poised to take in $55 million or more in the U.S. and Canada during its opening weekend.

Last week, shares of Lionsgate lost 9% of their value at least partly on concerns that negative reviews could adversely affect the film's performance. Although the film received an "A" CinemaScore from moviegoers, critics weren't as kind.

"Divergent" received a score of 40% from Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates movie reviews. The film, a dystopian thriller that stars Shailene Woodley and was produced by Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment division, had a budget of $85 million.

A research note from financial services firm Stifel, which rates Lionsgate a "buy," said that "given the stock's decline as the week went by we suspect that this box office will be a sigh of relief."

Several analysts believe that the film's performance was strong enough to launch a new franchise for Lionsgate, which also produces and distributes "The Hunger Games" movies.

Evercore Partners' Alan Gould wrote in a research note that the picture's opening "can safely be presumed" to have launched a franchise that would include as many as four films.

For Lionsgate, a hit film hasn't always translated to an immediate stock price boost.

Shares of Lionsgate, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, tumbled as much as 11% on the Monday following the debut of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" in late November.

That film opened to $158 million, but observers said at the time that the stock might have suffered because the film missed some analysts' box-office expectations.

Though the picture was a massive hit -- and ultimately took in $864 million worldwide -- some analysts had hoped the movie would open to as much as $175 million domestically.