Mockingjay Films to be Shoot Back to Back to Save Cost According to Lionsgate

A recent article from LA Times has reported that Lionsgate plans to shoot Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 back to back to save cost. It was also reported that Lionsgate’s profit might be lesser than the first Hunger Games because making Catching Fire is more expensive. According to the report:

Lions Gate expects to make slightly less money on next year’s “Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” than it did on the original due to higher costs, but hopes to improve its bottom line on the final two films in the franchise by shooting them back-to-back.

On a conference call with analysts discussing the company’s financial results for its fiscal first quarter, Lions Gate motion picture group Co-chairman Patrick Wachsberger said, “The profitability of ‘Catching Fire’ might decline slightly due to the scope of the film.” That’s a reference to higher costs for production and bringing back the movie’s actors, which will apparently outweigh improvements the studio is receiving in its production tax credit as well as the terms of sales to foreign distributors.

“The Hunger Games”cost nearly $100 million to make, though tax credits brought that total down to a little more than $80 million. Lions Gate executives did not specify the planned budget for “Catching Fire” on the conference call.

Analysts estimated soon after the March release of “The Hunger Games” that the movie would bring in about $300 million in profit to Lions Gate.

“Catching Fire” begins production in September with new director Francis Lawrence and will be released in November 2013.

Although no director has been selected for the two planned films to be adapted from “Mockingjay,” the third book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, Wachsberger said that the two movies, to be released in November 2014 and 2015, will be shot together.

Because of that, Wachsberger said, “we expect the average budget [for the ‘Mockingjay’ movies] to be slightly lower than ‘Catching Fire.'” And with lower costs, he added, “profitability should come up with the final two installments.”

He also noted that “The Hunger Games” has grossed a solid, if far from spectacular, $25 million in China. Lions Gate pre-sold that movie to a Chinese distributor, rather than receiving a share of revenue under the country’s quota-based import system. However, with its strong performance, Wachsberger said Lions Gate will see “a substantial amount of overages,” an industry term for bonuses in addition to a minimum guarantee provided by a foreign release partner.

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