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‘The Hunger Games’ Effect: Winners and Losers

Lionsgate stock is flying at an all-time high thanks to huge buzz for the upcoming “The Hunger Games” film, which opens in 4,000 theaters on Friday. Expectations for the movie to post a bigger opening than the first ‘Twilight’ drove the stock up as much as nine and a half percent higher this morning, though it’s since retreated a bit. The film is expected to gross between $70 million and $100 million at the box office opening weekend.

The Hunger Games
Source: Thehungergamesmovie.com
The Hunger Games

All the ticket pre-sale numbers point to a massive opening.

Fandango says it’s already sold out more than 1,000 showings, tracking ahead of Twilight’s debut. Movietickets.comhas sold out about 900 screenings, half of which are for midnight screenings, which points to a devoted fan base. And the overall box office should get a boost from IMAX showings, which are a few bucks more expensive than screenings in a regular theater. Movietickets.com reports that thirteen percent of all tickets sold are for IMAX screenings.

The massive buzz for ‘The Hunger Games’ could be a game changer for Lionsgate, which is working to build itself into a Young Adult powerhouse. It is planning three more movies based on "The Hunger Games" trilogy, and has three other Young Adult book series in development. Its acquisition of Summit, which produced the record-breaking ‘Twilight’ series will be valuable in producing and marketing to target this demographic.

Lionsgate isn’t the only company to benefit from the movie’s big opening—publisher Scholastic has gotten a boost in a spike in book sales. And even Amazon is seeing an impact—the company reports that the trilogy’s author Suzanne Collins is now Amazon Kindle’s best-selling author.

The big loser in Hunger Games expected success? Carl Icahn. He sold his one third stake of Lionsgate—some 44 million shares—for $7 each back in August. Now the company is trading at about double that. Based on the stock’s current valuation he’s lost out on about $300 million in value.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.