Cineplex Galaxy exhibition results shine

Reports first quarter net earnings of $3.2 mil

TORONTO -- Surging boxoffice from Hollywood releases helped Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund on Friday report a return to the black in the first quarter.

Toronto-based Cineplex Galaxy, which operates 130 multiplexes country-wide, posted earnings of CAN$3.7 million ($3.16 million) to March 31, against a loss of CAN$2.3 million in 2008. Revenue rose 11.2% to CAN$211 million ($180 million), compared to a year-earlier CAN$189 million.

Total boxoffice receipts rose 11.5% to CAN$133 million ($113.5 million), from CAN$116 million in 2008. Cineplex Galaxy’s top five releases -- “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Watchmen” and “Taken” -- accounted for 24% of first quarter boxoffice, against 21% in 2008.

And concession revenue rose 11.3% to CAN$63 million ($54 million), on higher cinema attendance and spend-per-patron during the latest quarter.

Cineplex Entertainment president and CEO Ellis Jacob said moviegoing continued to offer “affordable escape” to Canadians during hard times as even concession sales managed continuing “resilience.”

The Canadian exhibitor has also ramped up its 3D screen availability ahead of a busy summer for 3D Hollywood releases.

“3D is here to stay and it’s a major game changer for our business,” Jacob said.

He added the exhibitor has found “very little resistance” from consumers to a CAN$3.00 ($2.55) premium ticket price for 3D movies owing to the novelty and screen rarity of the medium. Cineplex Galaxy expects to have 122 3D screens on stream by the end of May, the second-highest penetration in North America behind Carmike.

The incremental costs to Cineplex Galaxy from 3D exhibition remain mostly the cost of screen installations, a film rental fee for distributors and a royalty fee to Real 3D.