'Avengers: Endgame' Helps Lift Imax Second-Quarter Earnings

Avengers: Endgame Still 20 - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Avengers: Endgame

Christopher Nolan is shooting 'Tenet,' his upcoming action-thriller, entirely with Imax cameras, according to the giant-screen exhibitor.

Giant-screen exhibitor Imax on Tuesday posted higher second-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations.

The company reported earnings of $11.3 million attributable to shareholders, compared with a profit of $7.62 million last year.

The adjusted earnings per share for the second quarter was 32 cents, which beat a Wall Street forecast of 28 cents in per-share earnings, according to FactSet.

Quarterly revenue came in at $104.8 million, compared to a year-earlier $98.3 million, which beat an analyst forecast for $98 million in overall revenues for the latest financial frame.

Imax's global box office grew to $364.9 million, up 6.5 percent from $343 million in 2018. The jump was driven by strong box office for Avengers: Endgame, shot entirely with Imax's cameras, and overall strength in Greater China, where the exhibitor saw its box office grow 28.9 percent.

Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told analysts during a conference call that his company is working to get more Hollywood directors to use Imax cameras for their tentpoles. He said Christopher Nolan is shooting Tenet — the Warner Bros. action-thriller starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson and which is set for release in July 2020 — entirely with Imax cameras on location in seven countries.

James Bond 25 and Wonder Woman 1984 are also being shot using Imax cameras ahead of their tentpole releases.

Gelfond told analysts that American entertainment players weren't expected to be hit by current trade tensions between the U.S. and China, as Chinese authorities are careful not to reduce foot traffic to local shopping malls, where multiplexes have American tentpoles as draws. "We're optimistic that there will not be an impact on Hollywood content, at this time," said the exec.

Gelfond also was asked about tax issues that have hindered Chinese movie companies and talent in the last year, and he responded "those issues are behind the industry there" and no longer pose a challenge to local filmmakers.

During the latest quarter, Imax's domestic box office was $123.3 million, down from a year-earlier $131.2 million, while the Greater China box office grew to $130.1 million during the latest quarter, against a year-earlier $101 million. The rest of the world box office was $111.5 million, compared to $110.4 million in 2018.

Imax's top three releases in the latest quarter were Avengers: Endgame, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Disney's Aladdin remake. Already in its current third quarter, Imax is seeing strong performance from Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lion King and the Chinese title Nezha, which broke animation box office records in China with a $91.5 million bow and marked the biggest animated Imax opening in that market with an $8 million take.

"Imax is on track to deliver its best year at the box office. ... Our continued success is driven by the privileged position we hold in the entertainment ecosystem, where our end-to-end technology empowers world-class creators to bring cultural events and communal experiences to life on a global scale," Gelfond said in a statement ahead of Tuesday's analysts call.

The exhibitor's digital remastering revenue was $39.2 million, compared with a year-earlier $36 million. And revenue from joint venture theaters came to $25.3 million, against $24.7 million in 2018.