It’s that time of year when public companies throughout the world announce their second quarter earnings. If you’re a giant media company with a streaming service that means you’ll be trying to appease Wall Street big wigs with your latest subscriber figures, price increases or plans to decrease costs by raising prices while growing your subscriber base. If you’re a movie theatre operator, your fiscal revelations for the latest quarter will be seen as a predictor on whether an entire industry will live or die. So, no pressure.
Of course, last year at this time exhibitors were dreading having to report Q2 earnings, or more specifically the lack thereof. Movie theatres around the world had been closed for upwards of a year in many regions. Those that were open were done so at reduced capacity and were busy complying with an increasing number of restrictive health regulations that was the direct inverse to the paltry number of new movies hitting theatres. Indeed, cinema operators could probably have made more money during that time period selling red ink to other public companies and accounting firms than they did selling movie tickets and popcorn to patrons.
However, what a difference a year makes. Or more precisely, what a difference a year makes when COVID vaccines are readily available and the highest grossing Tom Cruise movie of all time hits theatres after 24-months of daily press reports about whether said movie will head straight to streaming. Yes, I’m referring to “Top Gun: Maverick,” but I also could have cited the latest Doctor Strange entry from Marvel or those dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park Dominion,” all of which helped exhibitors dramatically improve their bottom lines during Q2 of 2022.
To be sure, most cinema operators are still filling their pens with red ink, though they need far less of it than last year and could even use some black ink to complete a few of their financial reports. Revenue, attendance and sales per patron appear to be up across the board. And this was before those little Minions showed up in July and proved that family audiences can both stream movies at home and watch them in theatres (go figure).
AMC, the world’s largest movie theatre chain, is so bullish on their future they announced a special dividend for share holders. Dubbed the AMC Preferred Equity Unit (or APE, in honor of all the retail investors that bought into the company during its meme stock heyday), the new shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the APE symbol. By issuing the stock on a one-to-one basis to anyone holding a Class A common stock share on 15 August, retail investors have had over a week to drive up the price trying to get in on the offer. Since AMC’s earnings call on 4 August the stock has gone up over 30%.
In short, exhibitors saw financial and attendance trend lines head in the right direction during the second quarter of this year as they get one stop closer to getting the pandemic monkey off their backs once and for all. (See what I did there?)
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Celluloid Junkie is the leading online resource dedicated to the global film and cinema business. The Marquee is our newsletter focused on motion picture exhibition; keeping industry professionals informed of important news, the latest trends and insightful analysis