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Imax Revenues Get Lift From China Moviegoing Revival, but COVID-19 Takes a Toll

Brent Lang
·2 min read

Imax’s quarterly revenue beat Wall Street’s expectations even as its losses were steeper than expected. The theater company reported revenues of $56 million, a 55% drop from the prior-year quarter’s revenues of $124.3 million. It also logged a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $21.2 million, or 36 cents per diluted share. That’s down from a profit of $18.2 million or 29 cents per share in the prior-year period, a time before coronavirus upended moviegoing.

Imax was projected to record a loss of 20 cents on revenue of $47.1 million. The company attributed its stronger than expected sales to the return of moviegoing in China and Japan. Movies like “Detective Chinatown 3” have done huge business in China, fueling a box office revival in the country and potentially setting the stage for positive news in an industry that has been battered by the public health crisis. Some of those films opened after Imax’s quarter closed in December.

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The results goosed Imax shares, causing the stock to rise more than 2.4% in after-hours trading.

The big screen company reported earnings at a time of upheaval for the exhibition industry. Theaters were closed for much of the past 12 months and studios have delayed many of their blockbusters, pushing them later to 2021 and 2022 in the hopes of outrunning the pandemic. That hurt Imax, which has made a name for itself by showcasing superhero movies and tentpole fare on its wide, tricked-out screens.

“As the world’s only global blockbuster entertainment platform, we are encouraged to see that audiences are eager to return to the movies where the virus is under control and they feel safe, and this promising trend is reflected in our consistent financial improvement since the start of the pandemic,” said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond in a statement.

Things are improving for the exhibition sector. New York City cinemas are reopening at limited capacity on Friday, while Los Angeles is expected to welcome back patrons in the coming weeks.

“People are tired of sitting in their living rooms,” Gelfond told Variety. He went on to predict that moviegoing will begin to come back during the summer when studios traditionally release some of their biggest films.

“There will be a summer blockbuster season,” he said.

Imax also got some government aid, receiving $1.9 million from the CARES Act.

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