Rich Gelfond, chief executive of Imax, said "The Dark Knight Rises" is meeting the company's expectations despite what some analysts argue is a box office slowdown in the wake of last week's mass-shooting at a Colorado movie theater.
And Imax is doing just fine itself after a quarter that saw profits increase six-fold and revenue soar by more than 20 percent.
On a conference call with analysts Thursday following the company's announcement about its second-quarter financial results, Gelfond acknowledged that the third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise had a softer-than-expected opening weekend domestically. "The Dark Knight Rises" reported grosses of $160.9 million last weekend, less than the $190 million some analysts had projected before the killings at a midnight show of the film last Friday cast a pallor over the box office.
Yet Gelfond and Imax President of Filmed Entertainment Greg Foster both said that the film had hit the company's internal projections domestically and was exceeding them internationally. Boasting more than 70 minutes of footage filmed with Imax cameras, "The Dark Knight Rises" debuted to $23.8 million in 396 Imax theaters worldwide.
"We were at capacity virtually everywhere in North America … we started with high expectations, and we still have high expectations," Gelfond said.
For now, the company said it has no plans to dial back on the eight-week engagement it has set for the superhero movie but said it has the flexibility to substitute other titles if a film does not continue to perform at the box office.
Noting that "Dark Knight Rises" performed well during the week, Foster said, "Based on what we know today it's a moot point … it's not something that I anticipate being an issue."
Overall, it was a strong quarter for the big-screen company, driven by such summer tentpole fare as "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Prometheus." Profits jumped to $11.1 million, or 16 cents per share, from $1.8 million, or 3 cents per share, in the same period last year. Imax's revenue increased to $70.2 million.
It was a quarter, Gelfond noted, that was driven by "doubles" and not one "home run." Imax's strong performance was something he attributed both to its expanding global footprint in places like China and Brazil and to its ability to provide "differentiated" entertainment that attracts moviegoers with its promise of a premium theatrical experience.
Upcoming titles that Imax seemed to be bullish about included the James Bond sequel "Skyfall," which will take advantage of the format's expanded aspect ratio, along with "Star Trek 2" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," both of which will include scenes shot with Imax cameras.