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Lions Gate Reaches Highest Ever on ‘Hunger Games’ Effect

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which is scheduled to release the first of four planned “Hunger Games” films on March 23, reached the highest ever as investors anticipate the movies’ success.

Lions Gate, based in Vancouver and run from Santa Monica, California, gained 7.9 percent to $14.25 at the close in New York for the highest closing price since the company started trading in November 1998.

The website is predicting a $115 million opening weekend in the U.S. and a gross of $270 million domestically. Last month, the initial movie in the series set a first-day record for advance sales on Fandango, the ticket-selling site owned by Comcast Corp. The films are based on author Suzanne Collins’s books about a dystopian world where teens are forced to fight to the death on live television.

“It’s like a giant category 5 storm, churning off the coast - the meteorologists know it’s really big, but they don’t know how big it’s going to be,” James Marsh Jr., a New York-based analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co., said. Marsh, who recommends buying the stock, said that the series has the potential to be as popular as “Twilight” and “Harry Potter.”

Lions Gate acquired Summit Entertainment, maker of the “Twilight” movies, in January.

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