IMAX Chief Says Movie Theater Business Is 'Smoking' - What That Could Mean For Upcoming AMC, Cinemark Earnings

Zinger Key Points
  • Five films released in the first half of 2022 passed the $200M mark in domestic totals.
  • Domestic box office sales have grossed $4.7B year to date. That's an increase of 192.6% over 2021 — but down 30.7% from 2019.

IMAX Corp. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond says the movie theater business is “smoking,” due to an impressive lineup of summer blockbusters.

What happened: "If you look at the business itself, it's smoking," Gelfond said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The comment followed IMAX’s mixed earnings report. He noted that business is down just 5% from 2019, which was its “best year ever,” and indicated that perhaps the pandemic woes for movie theaters have ended.

Last week, IMAX released its quarterly report, missing earnings expectations. However, it beat analyst expectations on revenues. IMAX is down 9.82% for the year, outpacing both the broad market and certain rival movie theater chains.

Related: Summer Blockbusters Expected To Power Box Office In Second Half: Here's What's Next And A Look At 5 Stocks To Watch

AMC Entertainment Inc. AMC, which is set to report earnings on Thursday, Aug. 4, has fallen 43.25% in 2022.

Cinemark Holdings Inc. CNK is 7.81% positive on the year. It's expected to report earnings on Friday, Aug. 5.

Given that five films released in the first half of the year passed the $200 million domestic total, compared to just three films over the rest of 2021, there are strong hopes for earnings in movie theatres for the second half of 2022.

In terms of the IMAX business in China, which gives the company around 33% of its revenues, Gelfond is hopeful this is a turning point in the country marred by COVID-19 lockdowns.

The CEO said the company is coming off its best summer weekend in China since 2019. “They had a movie that did $125 million overall, and an IMAX did $6.3 million, which is the biggest we’ve done there in a while,” he explained.

Why it matters: According to experts, the domestic box office will reach between $7.5 billion and $8 billion in 2022, implying that the second half will be between $3.9 billion and $4.4 billion.

Domestic box office sales have grossed $4.7 billion year to date, an increase of 192.6% over 2021 — but down 30.7% from 2019.

Some of the years' remaining blockbusters include,

  • Oct. 4: “Halloween Ends”
  • Oct. 21: “Black Adam”
  • Nov. 11: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
  • Dec. 16: “Avatar: The Way of Water”
  • Dec. 21: “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”
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