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Lions Gate Wins Approval for ‘The Hunger Games’ in China

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. won approval to release “The Hunger Games” in China, Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said, gaining access to the world’s third-biggest movie market.

“We got approved to be in China in cinema and that’s a big move for that movie,” Feltheimer said in a May 2 interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.

The year’s biggest film to date has collected $603.5 million in worldwide sales without China, which follows North America and Japan in box-office receipts. Feltheimer didn’t discuss details such as the release date.

Overseas sales of $228.5 million for “The Hunger Games” have lagged behind revenue in the U.S. because Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of young-adult books aren’t well known internationally, Feltheimer said. That will change by the time the second film, “Catching Fire,” is released next year, he said.

China is becoming more important to U.S. filmmakers as the country adds more movie theaters, loosens restrictions on Western films and seeks more co-productions. Box-office sales there increased 35 percent to $2 billion in 2011, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. U.S. receipts were $10.2 billion, according to the group.

A 3-D version of the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” has taken in $134 million in China since it was released there on April 10, according to Box Office Mojo, a film researcher.

Lions Gate fell 3.6 percent to $11.47 at yesterday in New York trading. The shares have gained 38 percent this year.

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