Delay of next 'Potter' pic dings Imax

Shares drop 4% on news of two-week gap

It appears investors might have noticed Monday that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" won't arrive at Imax venues until two weeks after the film opens on regular screens.

Shares of Imax dropped 4% on Monday to $7.31 after a Wall Street analyst said the delay "should negatively impact Imax boxoffice results."

"Prince" opens wide July 14. Although it opens on two Imax screens that day -- one in New York and one in Los Angeles -- it won't get the wide Imax treatment until July 29.

The two-week delay is fallout from the decision by Warner Bros. to push "Potter" from its originally scheduled November 2008 opening. The new July opening overlaps with Imax's monthlong window dedicated to Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

Still, "Potter" contains 12 minutes of 3-D footage that moviegoers can experience only through Imax, so that could cushion the blow, Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Eric Wold said.

"There will obviously be some consumers that choose to wait for the Imax version with its 3-D scenes or will choose to see it for a second time, but we no not believe this will be enough to offset the negative impact from the move," he said.

Wold maintained his "buy" recommendation on Imax shares and predicts the stock will trade at $9-$10 in the next year or so.
comments powered by Disqus