Imax Earnings Get a Lift From China Box Office

The coronavirus pandemic continued to be a drag on IMAX’s earnings during the first quarter, but there were signs that a box office revival in Asia could foreshadow a moviegoing return in the U.S. and other markets.

The exhibition company reported revenues of $38.8 million, an 11% bump from the prior-year quarter, as well as a net loss of $14.8 million, an improvement on the $49.4 million the company lost in the year-ago period. That amounted to a loss of 25 cents per diluted share. Imax attributed the loss to the impact of theater closures due to the pandemic, as well as the capacity restrictions that are still in place in many major markets. It couldn’t have helped the company that many of the big blockbusters films that make its screens such a hit with fanboys and fangirls have been delayed during COVID-19. But the picture was brightened by the company’s performance in Asian countries such as China where moviegoing has resumed.

“Audiences across Asia continue to rediscover the theatrical experience in impressive numbers, driving record-breaking box office and accelerating the continued shift to blockbusters at the multiplex,” CEO Richard Gelfond said in a statement. “As Hollywood tentpoles return to theaters, the recovery is spreading to North America and key additional markets including Russia, and Saudi Arabia with the summer season ahead.”

The loss was in line with analyst estimates, but Imax’s revenues just fell short of Wall Street’s projections. Analysts expected it to report $39 million in revenues.

The company said it had improved its cash position by raising $230 million of convertible notes, which gave it more than $200 million in available liquidity. It had $283 million in debt. The company also sold its stake in Maoyan Entertainment, a Chinese online ticketing platform, for a $5.2 million gain.

Imax post its first year-over-year quarterly box office growth, with its $110 million in ticket sales primarily coming from Asia.

Imax also announced that Patrick McClymont, its chief financial officer, will be leaving the company to become the chief financial officer of a private company.

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