Cinemark CEO Predicts U.S. Box Office Will Break Record This Year

Mark Zoradi -Getty- H 2016
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"This year is going to reach the record 2015 and maybe slightly exceed it" due to mid-budget movie releases, CEO Mark Zoradi told an investors conference,

Movie theater operator Cinemark Holdings enjoyed record box office for its Hollywood releases in 2015, making comparisons with this year difficult.

But a bullish CEO Mark Zoradi on Wednesday predicted another record year in domestic box-office revenue for 2016.

"There's some really strong movies for the fourth quarter. And it looks to me like this year is going to reach the record 2015 and maybe slightly exceed it," Zoradi told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in a session that was webcast.

The Cinemark boss expressed optimism about mid-budget Hollywood movies performing at the multiplex, even while stuck in the middle of small-budget and tentpole releases, especially after Clint Eastwood's Sully delivered for Warner Bros. "Every time you think we'll only have big box-office movies and nothing else, you get some mid-range movies," he told investors.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Zoradi sees strong mid-budget efforts like Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and DreamWorks Animation's Trolls standing out. "There's going to be a number of movies in the $100 million to $200 million range in this fourth quarter and there's going to be two likely to break out of that, and that's Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One," he said. 

Zoradi also predicted the 2017 Hollywood movie slate looks even better than this year, especially with the Fast and Furious franchise performing better in Latin America, where Cinemark is active in 15 markets, than the Star Wars franchise.

"Everybody says Star Wars [Episode VIII] will be fantastic next year," said the exec. "But the one that's going to really overperform for Cinemark is [Fast 8]. In the world of Star Wars, the No. 1 movie in Latin America for 2015, it wasn't Star Wars. It was Fast and Furious," he added.

Besides box office, Zoradi also touted his company continuing to install luxury reclining seats in its theaters, and, while reiterating Cinemark is ready to buy more theaters, he said domestic acquisitions are likely to be family-controlled circuits rather than private equity plays.

"It's going to happen, but most of those [circuits] are family controlled, and they will decide when it's the right time to sell," he told investors.