Booming Canadian b.o. lifts Cineplex Galaxy

Cinema exhibitor posts record revenue of $228.5 mil

TORONTO -- Canadian cinema attendance is booming in hard times, boosting second quarter business at local exhibition giant Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund to new heights.

Toronto-based Cineplex Galaxy said Thursday that earnings jumped sharply to CAN$19.8 million ($18.3 million) during the three months to June 30, against a profit of CAN$6 million in 2008.

In line with its U.S. counterparts, the Canadian exhibitor said strong ticket sales for family-oriented Hollywood movies and higher concession sales juiced the profit line.

Cineplex Galaxy posted record revenue of CAN$248.6 million ($228.5 million), against a year-earlier CAN$209.3 million, as the exhibitor offered up traditional and 3D Hollywood movies like "Up" and "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian."

"People love going to the movies for both entertainment and escape, as evidenced by our record second quarter attendance," Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of parent-Cineplex Entertainment, said.

Q2 saw theatre attendance jump 16.2% to 18.1 million Canadians over 2008 levels, as cinema-goers flocked to strong performers "Fast and Furious" and "Monsters vs Aliens" in April, and "Star Trek," "Up," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Angels & Demons" in May, the exhibitor reported.

Rounding out the quarter's strong film slate was "The Hangover" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" in June.

Cineplex Galaxy, which runs 129 theatres with 1,328 screens countrywide, added concession revenue up 20% to CAN$74.2 million ($68 million), premium ticket prices paid for 3D movies and select ticket price increases also fed profit margins.