Quarterly Earnings: Regal, Imax and Dolby

 

Quarterly figures have been arriving thick and fast this week. We look at three key cinema companies: Regal Entertainment, Imax Corporation and Dolby Laboratories.

regal-entertainment1

The world’s largest cinema operator announced its quarterly figures and they were not what the analysts had hoped for, with revenue of USD $770.3 million, down 8.5% year-on-year and misses expectations by USD $41.41 million. There was a dividend of USD $0.22 per share. The CEO put a brave face on the drop and found a silver lining to highlight, though I’m not sure about her positive take on this year’s BO potential.

In a challenging summer box office environment, the growth in our average concession sales per patron and our focus on controlling variable costs helped drive Adjusted EBITDA margin of over 19%, stated Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment Group. With year-to-date industry box office results on par with last years record setting pace and an exciting film slate in the back half of the year, we are optimistic regarding the potential for further box office success in 2014.  LINK

In the earnings call that followed there was an acknowledgment of the harsher realities faced this summer but also some historical perspective by Ms Miles.

When viewed from a broader perspective, this year’s second quarter industry box office revenue was in line with the historical average for the last 5 years. On — one other item of note as it relates to the second quarter box office performance, we were again encouraged by the studios’ willingness to expand the summer box office season by delivering high-profile films throughout the quarter. Difficult comparisons aside, we continue to believe that a diverse film slate and a well-spaced release calendar increase the long-term potential for box office success for us and our studio partners.  LINK

Concessions, better consumer amenities, premium seats as well as Imax/RPX (premium large format) screens are the key to riding out the financial troughs.

And finally, the early returns on our initial investments in luxury, reclining seats are very promising, and in most cases, ahead of our expectations. We have fully converted 5 locations with 46 screens and are on track to complete 25 locations with 275 screens by the end of the year. As a reminder, this concept is not right for every location. Many of our theaters are simply too busy to sustain the seat loss that results from the installation of the larger recliners.

But in some situations, where the theater has been impacted by competition or simply nearing the end of its useful life, a return-minded investment in reclining seats can rejuvenate and potentially even extend the life of an existing theater. Based on the early success of these auditoriums, we believe we will have further opportunities to invest in our asset base in both 2015 and ’16. We remain excited about the potential for growth and financial returns associated with these initiatives and look forward to updating you as they progress.  LINK

Other insights: average ticket price was up by USD $0.05, premium screens attract 17% of box office, operating expenses were down by 1% (“due primarily to decreases in attendance-driven theater-level cost and lower payments associated with premium format revenue”), New York City and Washington D.C. were down by more than the market average, while alcoholic beverage serving was up from 31 to 39 locations. Interestingly the company doesn’t think it is possible to cut staffing levels any more than they already have.

Obviously, we’ll always look to reduce costs where we can in a low-attendance environment, and I think our managers and our field personnel will continue to do a great job doing that. But to ask them to do a lot more than that I think is going to be tough for us.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 24 July 2014

Sex Tape header

The summer isn’t over but already it seems that last rites and post-mortem are being performed on what has been a disappointing box office season, at least in the US. Thank goodness there is China and other emerging markets to cheer up Hollywood, though this is cold comfort for US-based exhibitors. Apparently its men’s fault for staying away in droves.

Less than six weeks before Labor Day, hopes for recovery at the North American summer box office have evaporated. The season is expected to finish down 15 to 20 percent compared with 2013, the worst year-over-year decline in three decades, and revenue will struggle to crack $4 billion, which hasn’t happened in eight years. As a result, analysts predict that the full year is facing a deficit of 4 to 5 percent.

And

Although there have been no Lone Ranger-size debacles, for the first time since 2001 no summer pic will cross $300 million domestically (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Maleficent and Transformers: Age of Extinction hover near $230 million). May kicked off with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 earning $200 million less domestically than 2013′s Iron Man 3; by July 20, the divide had swelled to nearly $690 million as revenue topped out at $2.71 billion, down 20 percent compared with the same period last year.  LINK

Could it be partly because US ticket prices are up compared to Q1 this year (but down compared to Q4’13)?

The average cost of going to the cinema in the U.S. rose to $8.33 in the second quarter of 2014 as the summer season kicked into high gear, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.

That’s up from $7.96 in the first quarter of the year, when there were fewer 3D tentpoles.
However, it was notably down from the second quarter of 2013, when the average movie ticket price clocked in at $8.38 (the reason for the year-over-year decline could include fewer 3D tickets being bought overall as the appetite for the format wanes).  LINK

 Screen Australia chief executive Graeme Mason

Australia - Federal budget cuts means that Screen Australia has to cut staff by one-tenth and decrease funding for cinema-related projects.

Chief executive Graeme Mason has announced plans to save more than $5 million this financial year, including up to $3 million in development and production investment and another $1 million by cutting staff from 112 to 100.

Faced with a $38 million cut over four years in the May budget, Screen Australia will also reduce what it spends to help a film’s cinema release – so-called ”print and advertising” support – and end direct funding of such industry training organisations as Sydney’s Metro Screen, Melbourne’s Open Channel and Adelaide’s Media Resource Centre.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 23 July 2014

Multikino_karta

Poland – An interesting cross-promotion movie pass and subscription pass for satellite and cinema consumption of movies.

Polish satellite platform nc+ introduces a special offer for its subscribers who are cinema lovers. It offers a card Multikino Unlimited, which allows viewing films without additional charges in any of 31 cinemas of the chain Multikino. The Multikino Unlimited card costs monthly PLN 79, and provides a subscriber of nc+ with access to 31 films a month (one film a day) without the need to buy a ticket. The ticket also provides a 15-percent discount on a second ticket and on snacks in the cinema bar. Each subscriber can buy up to four cards (e. g. for family members). The subscriber buys the card for at least nine months. The fee for the card is billed on the monthly invoice.  LINK

Tehran Azadi Cinema

Iran – Before the revolution in 1979 there were 500 cinemas in Iran. Today there are just 200 and people rarely go to the ones left. So how to entice them back? Offer free screenings of films.

The Azadi Cinema Complex in Tehran announced on Tuesday that henceforth, its theaters will offer free admission every day for the first screening.

The decision has been made to encourage people to watch films at theaters, complex director Reza Saeidi told the Persian service of MNA.

“Other institutions and organizations should get on board with some promotional activities to draw people into theaters,” he added.  LINK

French cinema statistics

France – More proof that female audiences are driving cinema viewing this summer – with data coming from CNC in France.

In June 2014, the public cinema is predominantly female (51.3% against 51.4% in May 2014) as the barometer publiXiné National Film Center and Moving Image Centre (CNC) made in partnership with Médiavision. The share of less than 15 years in public this period (18.4%) is lower than in May 2014 (23.3%), “especially because of the late spring school holidays” he says. Total investment in the first half of 2014, the share of 3-14 years in public is higher by 5.2 points compared to the first half of 2013 the share of 15-24 year olds rose in June 2014 (22% , against 19.4% in May), as well as that of seniors (29.7% against 28.6% in May 2014). The share of CSP + is decreasing (30.1% against 31.4% in May 2014), while the inactive increased (44.8%, against 43.3% in May 2014). This increase PubliXiné notes, is as much the fact that retirees of pupils and students (respectively +1.1 and +1.7 points compared to May 2014).  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 22 July 2014

Imax China

Imax – According to Wall Street Journal China, Imax is planning to open a further 19 screens in partnership with local companies ahead of listing its local operation. Interestingly Richard Gelfond’s Chinese name is Gail Fang.

IMAX theater will open new cooperation with Chinese state-owned Shanghai Film Group (Shanghai Film Corp.), these new theater will open in the second half of 2015. IMAX chief executive Gail Fang (Richard Gelfond) in an interview that the new screen is in agreement IMAX April this year after the signing of a new partnership agreement, IMAX at the time that 20 percent of China operations will the shares sold to the Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund (China Media Capital) and private equity firm party sources of capital (FountainVest Partners), Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund and each party sources of capital will be paid before the beginning of 2015 to $ 40 million to purchase these services 10 % stake. Gail Fang said that this is one of the local partners to introduce IMAX many reasons. He explained that the next few weeks IMAX will sign an agreement with the Shanghai Film Group, a related company in China to open six new screens. He would not disclose more details. Gail Fang said they feel American investors do not fully understand the potential of the Chinese film market. IMAX China is a key growth market, also destined to become the company’s largest market.  LINK

Chinese ticket machine cinema third party

China – Internet purchases of cinema tickets via PCs and smartphones now accounts for as much as 40% of some screenings in China, many through third-party operators. But there are problems getting refunds when a screening or booking is cancelled.

So why buy from a third-party platform movie tickets will not refund it to industry sources, it involves a lot of problems:? First permissions issues, some theater tickets willing to open permissions to the site at any time to cancel or reservation, some if not, for unwilling audience request returned tickets, you need a web site to communicate with the theater; Second, the number of back problems, the user tickets through the website, the website will charge a service fee, which is not linked to the occurrence and the theater, And every ticket website service charges are not the same, how much money to retire to cinema audiences has become a major problem; most critical is that each theater has its own ticketing provision that “once sold, will not refund” also it as a “norm”, because in the theater seems, movie tickets have a time limit, the audience returned tickets may affect sales, so in the case of theater tickets out of their own can not retire, the net purchase tickets.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 21 July 2014

dcinex logo

EVS is getting out of the digital cinema business (almost). Having launched a digital cinema server business and set up integrator XDC (later renamed dcinex) almost 15 years ago, the manufacturer is returning its focus to its core broadcast equipment business.

No need for lengthy analysis, other than to note that EVS probably held off longer than it wanted too, isn’t seeing very much return on its overall investment and will not quite be rid of the digital cinema connection until it disposes its newly gained Ymagis shares and bonds. The press release tells us that:

Under the agreement, EVS will receive at the closing:

  • EUR 2.1 million in cash
  • 288,851 new Ymagis shares
  • EUR 6.4 million in Ymagis bonds, which have a maximum maturity of 5 years. These bonds are associated with warrants.
  • In total, the approximate aggregate value of the different components (at last closing Ymagis share price of EUR 7.90) represents around EUR 10.8 million for EVS. On March 31, 2014 dcinex was valued at EUR 7.9 million on the EVS balance sheet.

In addition, dcinex will reimburse the currently existing shareholders’ loans. Today, the loan granted by EVS (including interests) amounts to EUR 1.5 million.  LINK

With digital cinema deployment coming to and end in western Europe (still some mopping up in southerns and eastern Europe), Ymagis can now focus on being a pure service company. Given that digital cinema is a small market with tight margins we should expect yet more consolidation.

Cineworld Ashford Kent

Cineworld has introduced allocated seating in UK, which has lead to confusion and criticism from some customers. A poll of 2,000 readers of a local paper in Kent saw 67% vote ‘NO’ to the allocated seating policy and some customers are threatening to cancel their Cineworld Unlimited. The multiplex chain is alone amongst the major operators in the UK in offering a monthly card allowing unlimited* movie viewing.

Critics said problems with the new system include confusion over row and seat numbers, people ignoring rules, arguments and problems with booking tickets online and the website crashing. Yesterday, KentOnline revealed an argument had broken out during a screening of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie in Ashford when a group of five sat in the seats booked by other customers. Little Burton resident Kirsty Poynton said the beginning of the film was interrupted due to the disagreement. She said: “There was an argument between a large group of people at the screening.  LINK

But Cineworld is standing its ground with the new policy and a spokesperson quoted as saying, “The decision to introduce allocated seating was made following extensive consultation with cinema users. Whilst we recognise this has not been a popular decision with some customers, the overall and majority of feedback from customers visiting our cinemas has been positive.” (*Terms and Conditions apply – of course). Read More »

Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 18 July 2014

Vista Murray Holdway

New Zealand – Ticketing specialist Vista has been valued at $188 million. Not clear if US or NZ dollars, but as it is on the NZX bourse most likely the latter, meaning it is would be worth USD $163.4 million.

Investors in cinema software company Vista’s sharemarket float will pay $2.35 for its shares, valuing the company at $188 million.

The price was set following a book build open to institutional investors and retail brokers who had been told to expect the price to fall between $2.10 to $2.70.

Vista, one of a stream of technology companies listing on the NZX, is raising $40m of new capital through its initial public offer. Its existing shareholders are seeking to cash up $52m by selling down their stake in the company to 47 per cent.  LINK

Laxmi Talkies

India – Yet another article noting the loss of single screen cinemas in India as multiplexes march on, with Ranchi (the city in question) having four multiplexes but only three stand-alone cinemas left.

Licensing authority for theatres, Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey, says: “We have just issued a licence for a new multiplex in Lalpur. We expect more such theatres to come up in the next few years. The biggest advantage that they have vis-a-vis single-screen theatres is that with multiple screens showing one movie at the same time, the money spent on making the film is recovered in the first weekend itself.”  LINK

Yet it is not smooth sailing for all multiplexes, including this one in Sambalpur that has not opened, despite construction work being finished back in January.

Though its operator Eyelax Films had scheduled to open the multiplex on January 26, it failed to do so as the district administration did not issue the licence.

The town used to have three cinema halls – Ashoka Talkies, Laxmi Talkies and Gaiety Talkies- till pirated CD market spelled doom for their owners. While encroachment by locals forced the Kerala-based owner of the Gaiety Talkies to sell the land to a real estate owner, others are running with old infrastructure. In absence of any option, cine lovers flock the Ashoka and Laxmi Talkies.  LINK

Meanwhile more reports that Reliance ADAG is looking to dump Big Cinemas.

The company is said to be in talks with other multiplex majors like Inox, @PVR_Limited1 Limited and also other PE firms.

As per reports if the strategic sale does not consummate the company would rope in the PE partner to invest in the multiplex chain after being spun off as a separate entity to be listed. LINK

Perhaps Reliance should sell them to Carnival, which is looking to acquire 3,000 screens over the next three years – a figure to be taken not so much with a pinch as a barrel of salt.

Shrikant Bhasi, chairman of the Carnival Group, said that his company is in talks to acquire 175 screens from three separate multiplex operators in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Bhasi did not share details of the plans, but confirmed that consulting firm KPMG is advising the company on the transactions, which he said will be concluded in the next two to three months. “The immediate goal is to have 300 screens,” said Bhasi, who is also a movie producer and has played minor roles in Malayalam films. “My team is already working for a 3,000-screen project.”  LINK

Not sure if they will want screens in southern India where state governments keep setting price controls on tickets and now also concessions.

The Congress government had promised to introduce uniform fares to contain the multiplex lobby in January.

But, in an interview to NDTV, state Information Minister Roshan Baig said, “I used to feel the pinch as a movie-goer. But then we are not paying for the ticket alone. Chennai has uniform rates of Rs. 120 and we wanted to bring the same to control the prices imposed by multiplex owners, but I realized it cannot work. Malls are now turning away from Chennai. But I have ordered multiplex owners in Bangalore to reduce prices of food items because they are very expensive”.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 11 July 2014

Big Cinemas

India – After the surprise merger of its RMW film services division with Prime Focus, Reliance ADAG looks set to sell off its Big Cinemas operation. Good analysis as always from Variety’s Patrick Frater.

The company is in advanced negotiations to sell its Big Cinemas circuit to an unidentified private equity firm, according to Indian business media. RMW is also reported to be holding similar talks with PVR and Inox Leisure, the country’s two largest cinema operators. Big Cinemas operates some 280 screens across India, making it the third-largest circuit. Born from the Adlabs group that Reliance ADA acquired in 2006, Big Cinemas was previously the largest exhibitor in India. But it lost ground to its smaller rivals because it opened too many single-screen cinemas and missed some key acquisitions. LINK

India – And like most other multiplexes, Big Cinemas has completed the transition to DCI-grade digital cinema while most single-screen cinemas in India now have lower grade e-cinema systems from the like of UFO Movies, meaning that the country is close to complete digitisation.

With nearly 95 per cent of Indian cinema screens now digitised, the industry is expected to see buoyant growth in the long run. The Government has approved an anti-piracy plan for combating piracy which impacts movies’ box office collections. The Government has also signed co-production agreements with nine countries including Italy, Brazil, Germany, France, New Zealand, Poland and Canada. India is also a sought after shooting location, as the Government gave permission to 31 foreign production houses in 2013-14. Also, the first phase construction of the National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai has been completed and will open for the general public shortly. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 July 2014

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Today’s big news is AMC spending USD $600 million on upgrading its cinemas, primarily introducing bigger and more comfortable seats. The strategy has been flagged before but now everyone is following. It is effectively an admission of defeat in terms of ever hoping that attendance figures will improve. Now it is about extracting as much revenue from the few people that still go to the cinemas (NB: though attendance is up in the renovated screens, but unlikely to boost overall national figures). WSJ has a good analysis:

The nation’s second-largest movie theater chain is spending hundreds of millions of dollars outfitting a number of theaters with La-Z-Boy-type seats that fully recline—a conversion that removes up to two-thirds of a given auditorium’s seating capacity. It’s a less-is-more approach to a business that has long thought bigger was better.

But AMC’s counterintuitive success with the program has converted skeptical competitors and become integral to the company’s pitch to new investors.

The conversions are AMC’s highest-profile campaign since it was purchased for $2.6 billion by China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corp. in 2012 and went public last December. The company plans to spend about $600 million over the next five years to “reseat” 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 screens. The renovations typically cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium, with landlords often shouldering some of the cost. LINK

The WSJ blog also has a good point that you wio’t be finding this in the biggest cities (NYC and LA) as rent is too high already.

The conversions highlight a liability facing the country’s biggest film exhibitors: a supply of outdated theaters that rarely sell out, yet would be costly to tear down and rebuild.

Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums has leapt 80%, on average, despite the drastic reduction in capacity to sometimes fewer than 70 seats. The company declined to say what the average before-and-after attendance numbers were, though Mr. Lopez acknowledged that the biggest attendance boosts would come in theaters that were weak performers, some of which were losing money. LINK

Event Cinema

Argentina: As the World Cup approaches its conclusion, one country is going all out to show the key game on the big screen. No, not the UK, but rather its old foe Argentina in their game against Germany tonight.

Over 100,000 people across Argentina have watched their national team compete in the 2014 World Cup at movie halls, which broadcast the games.

The National Cinema and Visual Arts Institute (INCAA) said in a statement that it has made 38 movie halls available for screenings of national team matches, featuring star footballer Lionel Messi, Xinhua reported.
Argentina Saturday defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the semifinals against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo Wednesday. The two nations haven’t disputed a World Cup semifinal since the 1990 edition in Italy. LINK.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 7 July 2014

Lotte Super Plex G Is The World's Largest Cinema Screen

What is the largest cinema screen in the world? According to Guinness World Records it is now in the tallest building in South Korea. So that’s officially official.

The screen of the multiplex cinema which will open at the Lotte Cinema World Tower, boasts its unparalleled size in the industry: With 622 seats — the largest available number of seats for a screen, the Super Plex G is an ultra large theater which looks like a two-storey opera theater in appearance. In its 34 meters wide and 13.8 meter long screen, 34 adults can lie on it together.

On July 3, a special ceremony was held to commemorate the recognition of the largest screen “Super Plex G” at Lotte Cinema World Tower by the Guinness World Records that confirmed the huge screen has been qualified as the world’s officially biggest screen. LINK

USA: THR asks what is behind the underperforming summer box office in North America, which is down nearly 20% up to the 4th of July holiday. Underperforming titles seem the culprit and no blame apportioned to World Cup (unlike Europe and Latin America).

What’s behind the summer drought? Hollywood studio executives and box office observers blame a lack of mega-grossing tentpoles, a dearth of doubles and triples and no huge animated family film. In other words, a number of films have underwhelmed (or bombed), including Fourth of July R-rated comedy Tammy, which posted a five-day debut of $32.9 million, Melissa McCarthy’s lowest recent opening (as a way of comparison, fellow R-rated comedy Neighbors launched to nearly $50 million in May).

Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year’s $229.8 million haul. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year, a disadvantage, but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27. LINK

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