Lionsgate’s release of John Wick: Chapter 4 and the continued strength of the company’s 18,000-title film and TV library helped the company post fiscal fourth-quarter results ahead of Wall Street expectations.
Adjusted earnings per share in the period ending March 31 came in at 21 cents, far better than analysts’ consensus outlook for a loss of 9 cents a share. Revenue of $1.086 billion in the quarter climbed 17% from the year-ago quarter and beat the Street by $92 million.
The library closed the fiscal year with two stellar quarters, bringing in a record $884 million over the trailing 12 months, the company said.
Revenue in the company’s Media Networks unit inched up 2% to $389 million, with proceeds from domestic streaming revenue and Lionsgate+ (the rebranded assets formerly known as Starzplay) offset by lower domestic linear revenue. Profit in the division more than doubled to $73.3 million, driven by growth in Lionsgate+ revenue, lower distribution and marketing expenses and lower content expenses at Lionsgate+ linked to international market closures.
Total global OTT subscribers increased by 1.3 million over the previous quarter on a pro forma basis (i.e. excluding subscribers in territories where the company has exited or is about to exit. As of the March 31 end of the fiscal year, the company reported 30.3 domestic and international subscribers across linear and streaming, down from 35 million at the end of the prior quarter.
Film results in the period included revenue from Plane and Jesus Revolution, each of which cracked $50 million at the global box office. John Wick: Chapter 4 came out a week before the end of the quarter, on March 24, and has gone on to gross a franchise-best $428 million. Most of its theatrical proceeds, not to mention ancillaries, will count in future quarters. The company’s television studio has backed a range of current titles like Ghosts on CBS; Love & Death on Max; and Selling Sunset on Netflix.
Results from TV and film production are reported in a combined studio segment. The division’s 25% gain in revenue during the quarter was powered by an 85% leap for movie revenue, to $532.1 million, and an 89% surge in profit. TV numbers headed the other direction due to the timing and mix of deliveries with revenue sliding to $291.5 million from $370.2 million in the 2022 period.
More than the quarterly numbers, Wall Street is keen to learn Lionsgate’s strategic plans for its Starz subsidiary and studio assets. Since 2021, the company has said it is looking at separating the two, though the timeline for revealing exact plans is self-imposed. Lionsgate acquired Starz for $4.4 billion in 2016, just as the premium TV network business was coming under increased pressure from cord-cutting and the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming.