IMAX’s Q1 Earnings Drop With No ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Batman v Superman’

XL movie screen company misses revenue mark on softer box office start

What a difference a year makes.

IMAX investors are learning that lesson as we speak, based on the company’s first-quarter 2017 financials. IMAX earned 6 cents per share on $68.7 million in revenue over the first three months of 2017, the company revealed early Thursday morning. Those are both down from the comparable 90-day period last year, and the latter missed Wall Street’s tempered forecast.

For Q1 2016, IMAX had reported 22 cents in earnings per share (EPS) on $353.9 million in revenue. This time around, media analysts had forecast EPS of 4 cents on $71.4 million in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance consensus poll.

The main problem was the slate, according to the company. Last year, theaters had the enormous “Star Wars: Episode VII” hangover, but also huge Q1 releases in “Batman v. Superman” and “Deadpool.” Not so much this time around.

Still, CEO Richard L. Gelfond remains undeterred — especially with “The Fate of the Furious” out now. Plus, summer blockbusters are just around the corner.

“Building on our record signings in 2016, our momentum in the first four months of 2017 has continued at an extremely strong pace. Not only have we witnessed record signings to date, we have also seen exceptional box office performance from titles such as ‘The Fate of the Furious,’ which did $30 million in its opening weekend in IMAX and broke numerous box office records including our biggest opening weekend ever in China,” he said. “We closed the first quarter with a 30-theatre deal with Bona and just recently announced a 40-theatre deal with Omnijoi and a 25-theatre deal with AMC-Odeon, bringing our year-to-date signings to a record 104 new theaters. Not only do these deals demonstrate our partners’ continued optimism in the IMAX business, they also underscore the global diversity of our future expansion.”

“In addition to significantly expanding our network and backlog, we are beginning to execute against several new promising business initiatives,” the boss continued. “We launched our flagship IMAX VR Centre in Los Angeles, announced our first-ever Hollywood VR slate deal with Warner Bros., and kicked off production with Marvel and ABC Studios on ‘Marvel’s Inhumans,’ which will debut exclusively in IMAX theaters in early September. We’re encouraged by the progress we’re seeing across these fronts and believe 2017 will serve as a key inflection point for IMAX as our business expands beyond box office.”

IMAX stock closed Wednesday at $32.20 per share, flat with the prior day. The U.S. markets will open at 9:30 a.m. today.

Gelfond and other IMAX executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss their quarter in greater detail. Expect them to focus more on the near future than recent past.