Lions Gate Entertainment's (NYSE:LGF) first quarter didn't come in like a lion. Let's see what the numbers tell us.

Net sales revenues declined 11% to $172.5 million. The operating loss narrowed considerably, coming in at $2.9 million versus a $17.6 million loss recorded last year. The net loss also improved to $3.6 million ($0.03 per diluted share) compared to $21.8 million ($0.21 per diluted share).

The losses may have narrowed, but no one likes to see such a decline in sales. In fact, looking through the segments, we see that theatrical sales declined 17%, driven by films like See No Evil and Akeelah and the Bee, both of which disappointed at the box office. In addition, the television movie segment and television production segment both saw respective dips of 9% and -- hold your breath -- 84%.

Talk about dips -- how about that dip in the cash flow? The company used up $15 million for its operating activities as opposed to generating twice that amount in the previous quarter. Not so glamorous, huh? Plus, by the company's calculation, free cash flow was a negative $2.1 million versus a positive $19.8 million last year.

Hold on, though, because there are some bright spots in the carnage. International revenues jumped 55% on the back of films such as Saw II and Hard Candy. The home video segment also saw significant growth, advancing revenues by 18%. The DVD sales were catalyzed by, among other elements, the Madea franchise.

Lions Gate has a significant collection of deferred revenue on the books that should add value later on. The release states that the current backlog of $240.5 million in filmed entertainment constitutes a record for the company. That's something that must be kept in mind. The timing of deliveries (as discussed vis a vis the television production segment) will cause variability in the earnings reports.

So, what are we to make all of this? Well, Lions Gate is a player in the movie business. It might not be as big and powerful as Disney (NYSE:DIS), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), Viacom (NYSE:VIA), or News Corp (NYSE:NWS), but it has proven to be a competent generator of franchise material. It also has access to a vast product library to create shareholder value over time, as Foolish colleague Stephen Ellis intimated. In fact, Stephen pointed out that the library added $70 million of free cash flow at a 35% cash flow margin for the last fiscal year -- not bad.

The lion may be sleeping right now, but wait for better things to come. The company expects to book that backlog at some point, and it is readying Saw III for a Halloween release. Lions Gate is not for the faint of heart, but it might provide value (and some Tinseltown glitz) for the less-core side of one's portfolio.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy.