'Dunkirk' Drives Imax to Record Third-Quarter Box Office

Allison Michael Orenstein

The giant-screen exhibitor, led by CEO Richard Gelfond, beat earnings expectations.

Imax on Thursday bucked the industry's summer box-office doldrums by posting record third-quarter box-office revenues after Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk played on its giant screens.

Imax recorded $98.8 million in overall revenue, on higher business from digital remastering (DMR) of Hollywood movies and joint revenue theaters, against a year-earlier $86.5 million in total revenue. And the adjusted earnings per share at 8 cents beat analysts' forecast of 1 cent per share by 7 cents.

Net income during the latest quarter fell to $2.9 million, compared with $4.3 million in the same period in 2016. The decrease was due in part to a $5.7 million one-time charge for stock-based compensation and another one-time $3.4 million charge for restructuring and other corporate costs during the latest quarter.

At the box office, Imax's global haul during the third quarter grew 17 percent to $218.8 million, compared with a year-ago $186.3 million, on higher DMR revenue. The domestic box office at $80.1 million grew 18 percent year-over-year, compared with an overall industry box-office fall of 14 percent.

Greater China third-quarter box office also rose to $60 million for Imax, against a year-ago $55.2 million. That was helped by Christopher Nolan fans flocking to Imax's giant screens worldwide to see Dunkirk, which follows soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada and France facing the German army during the eponymous World War II battle.

Gross box office per-screen fell slightly to an average $181,122 during the latest quarter, compared with $184,700 a year ago. The third-quarter box office included a contribution from the theatrical release of ABC's Marvel's Inhumans, which "underperformed our expectations," Imax said.

"Last quarter we laid out several initiatives aimed at increasing the revenue generation of our network and reducing our cost structure," Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said in a statement. "While we are still in the early stages of fully implementing these initiatives, we were pleased with the tangible progress we made in the third-quarter-facilitating heightened box office and notable margin expansion across our core business," he added.