Lions Gate Drops After ‘Blair Witch’ Misses Box-Office Estimates

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. fell the most in almost three months following the disappointing weekend box-office debut of “Blair Witch.” 

The new take on “The Blair Witch Project” generated $9.7 million, less than half the $20.5 million anticipated by analysts at Shares of Santa Monica, California-based Lions Gate slumped as much as 5 percent to $20.51, the biggest intraday decline since July 1, and traded at $20.63 at 11:03 a.m. The stock had surged 6.2 percent Friday in anticipation of a strong showing similar to recent horror films “The Conjuring 2,” “Lights Out” and “Don’t Breathe.”

“The movie did not come close to expectations and we would expect the stock to give back much of Friday’s gains,” Brean Capital LLC analyst Alan Gould wrote in a research note Monday.

“Blair Witch” may now only gross about $25 million domestically compared with the $50 million many analysts had predicted, said Gould, who estimates the movie will ultimately earn about $10 million for the independent film and TV studio, though will show a loss of a couple million dollars in the September quarter because of upfront marketing expenses. Gould maintained his buy rating for the stock.

The film arrives 17 years after “The Blair Witch Project,” one of the most profitable movies of all time. The new release was made for $5 million, according to Box Office Mojo, a tiny sum now, compared with today’s mega-budget films.

The new Lions Gate picture also uses filming techniques that made the first “Blair Witch” famous. A young man finds a video showing his sister’s experiences in a demonic forest and heads out with friends to find her. The original movie, with its found footage, left audiences wondering if the story was real.

“Blair Witch” came in second this weekend behind “Sully,” which topped the domestic box office for the second straight weekend, taking in $22 million.

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