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Cinemark CEO sees ‘pretty limited’ writers hitting impact, touts increased box office movie pipeline

Theater owner Cinemark Holdings reported total revenue of $610.8 million, down from $460.5 million a year earlier in the three months ended March 31.

Overall footfall increased by 29.6% to 42.9 million customers. That pushed admissions revenue up 31.9% to $311.0 million and concessions revenue up 36.3% to $235.8 million. The company reported a net loss of $3.1 million, compared to a loss of $74.0 million the year before.

CEO Sean Gamble pointed out Avatar: The Waterway, Creed III, Scream Six, John Wick: Chapter Four, Megan, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania And cocaine bear among the films giving results. He added that April was also a strong month at the box office, which helped the company on Monday pay off another $100 million of extra debt it took on during the pandemic.

The company has tried to watch its pricing as it recovers from the pandemic, but Gamble said in response to an analyst question that “there’s actually quite a bit of opportunity,” not just increase prices, but also to regulate “finer” pricing.

After attending CinemaCon last week, Gamble said he was pleased with the content pipeline that will be released over the next year and a half, highlighting the clips he saw from Little Mermaid, Elementary And Barbie, among others. Gamble and others also watched the entire flash, of which he said, “I can tell you that the studio’s comments suggesting that ‘The Flash’ is by far DC’s best movie to date are very well justified.”

Overall, Gamble said 2023’s total film volume is better than expected, as there have now been 110 dated wide releases, above their previous estimates of 100 to 105 for the full year. The number of films in the third and fourth quarters is still down about 15-20% compared to the pre-pandemic period, but the gap has narrowed due to the release of films from Amazon, such as Air, and other workshops.

“Based on the indications we continue to receive from our traditional studio partners regarding their targeted production levels, as well as Amazon’s expressed intention to grow to 10-12 films per year and the growing theatrical aspirations of Apple, we remain very optimistic that movie volume will recover close to or better than pre-pandemic levels over the next two years,” Gamble said.

Asked if the Writers Guild of America strike would impact film production and the flow of content, Gamble noted that it would depend on how long the strike lasts, but the majority of movies this year and the next are ‘unlikely to be materially affected. He added that the 2007-2008 WGA strike, which lasted 100 days, had “some impact” on the film industry, but the disruption to content releases was “fairly limited”.

Cinemark had 5,833 screens as of March 31, 2023, and plans to open seven new theaters and 59 screens over the next two years.

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