Imax Posts Lower Fourth-Quarter Earnings, Revenue on 'Rogue One' Box Office
'Rogue One' in Christmas 2016 wasn't the galactic 'Force Awakens' in the December 2015 corridor, and China's box-office slump hit per-screen averages.
Imax Corp. on Thursday posted a fall in fourth-quarter revenue and earnings as box office for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December was a tough comparison with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the year-earlier Christmas 2015 period.
Gross box office from digitally remastered movies playing on Imax screens came to $246.5 million, down from a year-earlier $288.4 million, with the average global per-screen box-office average in the fourth quarter coming to $233,300, against $318,600 in the same period of 2015.
The movie per-screen averages rose in Japan and India, but fell in China, where Imax had $33.7 million in overall revenues during the latest quarter. China's box-office slump in 2016 due to a weaker mix of Hollywood movies with lower ticket prices and a weakening of China’s yuan led to "disappointing" per-screen averages in the market, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told analysts during an afternoon call.
Imax's per screen average in China for the full year was $932,400 in 2016, down from a per-screen average of $1.34 million in the year-earlier period, on overall box office in China of $295.7 million for full-year 2016, against $312.4 million a year-ago.
Imax has bet heavily on China, having seen its Imax China subsidiary and Wanda Cinema Line recently unveil an agreement to build 150 new Imax theaters in that market. The agreement was Imax's largest-ever new theater deal.
Imax Corp. reported net income of $12.07 million for the three months to Dec. 31, 2016, compared with a year-ago profit of $26.24 million.
Third-quarter revenue was $107 million, down from a year-earlier $119 million. The adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 22 cents per share beat a Thomson First Call analyst forecast of 21 cents in per-share earnings.
The analyst consensus for revenue was $103.36 million. The giant screen exhibitor's Imax China subsidiary also on Thursday reported full-year 2016 revenue of $118.5 million and gross profit of $69.3 million. The adjusted profit for the year was $37.6 million, down 13 percent from a year-earlier, due in part to weaker box office.
On the new initiatives side, Gelfond touted his company's new partnership with Marvel and ABC to launch the first two episodes of the Inhumans TV series exclusively on Imax screens globally, as well as an expanding virtual reality business.
"While this [VR] venture is still in its pilot phase, we are extremely encouraged by the initial results and look forward to getting the additional locations up and running over the coming months," the exec said.
As Imax looks to diversify from a cyclical theatrical movie business, the company's deal with Marvel and the Disney/ABC Television Group includes co-producing Inhumans, with an equity participation both in the pilot and the TV series, and participating in the global syndication of the series.
Gelfond said the partnership on Inhumans could "provide meaningful upside down the road as we not only benefit economically from the box-office proceeds, but also from the ongoing licensing fees generated by broadcast, SVOD and potential global syndication windows for what we hope to be many years to come."
Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. Updated with year-end 2016 results from the Imax China subsidiary.