The stock’s up 5.8% in afternoon trading after Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh said that social media buzz around Divergent — the sci-fi action film that premieres on March 21 — is tracking ahead of the patterns for The Hunger Games on Twitter, and is catching up with the hit franchise on Facebook. The data suggest that Divergent “continues to strengthen across social outlets relative to other recent teen franchises, bolstering our enthusiasm for the film.” Marsh is sticking with his forecast for Divergent to generate $150M at domestic box offices and $120M internationally — but says that it “has the potential to generate results in-line with Twilight (DBO: $193M/ IBO: $200M) and will be green-lit as a multi-film franchise.” The analyst was over-optimistic about Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Its global box office likely will hit $900M, below his forecast for $950M. Even so, he raised his earnings estimate for the quarter that ended in December, in part due to “higher than expected splits with exhibitors.” Lionsgate shares hit an all-time high in October, but have fallen about 11.5% since then as investors took profits, and waited for clearer signs about the prospects for the studio’s new projects.
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