'Star Wars,' 'Deadpool' Drive Record Results at Canada's Cineplex

Courtesy of Lucasfilms 2015/Walt Disney Studios

First-quarter earnings doubled as Hollywood tentpoles drove record attendance growth.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens going into hyperspace at the Canadian box office helped lift first-quarter results at Cineplex as the exhibition giant enjoyed strong revenue and profit growth.

J.J. Abrams' Star Wars space opera, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time in North America, helped Cineplex report record first-quarter box-office revenue of $152.5 million (CAN$192.6 million) and record concession revenue. Cineplex, whose strong early 2016 performance is in line with its American peers, also saw Deadpool and Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice post the highest-grossing February and March opening weekends ever.

The bottom line impact has Cineplex reporting net income of $17.8 million (CAN$21.5 million) for the three months to March 31, up 103 percent from $10.5 million in 2015. Overall revenue rose 30.8 percent to $308 million (CAN$388 million).

Attendance jumped 17.4 percent to a record 20.6 million patrons and box-office and concession revenue per-patron were both up around 5 percent during the quarter. Other strong box-office performers for Cineplex during the latest quarter included family films like Kung Fu Panda 3 and Zootopia and The Revenant.

The first quarter of 2015 saw Cineplex draw box office from American Sniper, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Fifty Shades of Grey. The Canadian exhibitor also benefited from perennial winter snow closing fewer theaters during the first part of 2016, compared with more weather-related closures last year, especially in Atlantic Canada.

Cineplex executives will hold an analyst call  later on Tuesday morning.