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Canadian cinema giant Cineplex has yet to reach pre-pandemic box office levels, but did shrink its third quarter loss as Canadians returned in strength to the local multiplex to embrace Hollywood blockbusters.
Cineplex cut its net loss by 72 percent to $33.6 million, compared to a loss of $121.2 million in 2020, when the company saw many of its theaters shuttered amid the coronavirus spread or operating at limited capacity. As those pandemic-era restrictions have largely lifted, overall revenues for the third quarter came to $250.4 million, against a year-earlier $61 million, as theater attendance rose 430 percent to 8.3 million patrons.
Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob told analysts after the company’s results were disclosed that the Hollywood box office recovery was expected to continue into 2022 as long as the pandemic didn’t undo strategic growth plans and a strong Hollywood film pipeline continued.
Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter: “As the pandemic gets behind us, more and more guests will want to come back and experience the cinemas.” He added older film-goers were expected to continue following younger demos into theaters as they overcome wariness about venturing out of their homes as the pandemic wanes.
“What you’re going to see is as [older audiences] feel more comfortable, they will be coming back. Younger people are there in a big way, but we have to get the whole demographic back, and that’s going to happen as product draws them,” Jacob said, as popular titles like No Time to Die are followed up by upcoming releases like West Side Story and House of Gucci.
During the latest quarter, third quarter total box office came in at 53 percent of 2019 levels as theater reopenings ramped up month by month and Cineplex gained from well-timed blockbusters like Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, Free Guy and Black Widow.
The exhibitor also posted positive quarterly adjusted EBITDA across all business segments for the first time since the pandemic began and Cineplex reduced its average monthly net cash burn to $2.9 million during the latest quarter, down from $24 million in the second quarter of 2021, on working capital improvements.
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