Cinemark posted a dramatically smaller loss for the first quarter, besting analyst expectations as the national theater chain saw customers return to the movies in droves.
The Plano, Texas-based company said revenue leaped 32% to $610.7 million for the three months ended March 31, compared with $460.5 million for the 2022 first quarter. Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Services had on average expected revenue of $569 million, and the actual figure exceeded even the highest estimate tracked by the service.
The company noted that the volume of wide-release theatrical films in the quarter increased by more than 25% over the 2022 period. Full-year volume is tracking better than expected, with 110 wide-release films on the docket.
Admissions revenue soared 32% to $311 million, including $244.7 million in the U.S., up 27.5% from last year. Concession revenue leaped 36% to $235.8 million, including $186.8 million in the U.S., up 32% from last year.
In premarket trading, shares jumped 6%, after closing Thursday at $16.51, up 88% since the start of the year.
The worldwide average ticket price was $7.25 and concession revenue per patron was $5.50. Domestically, the average ticket price was $9.71, and the concession revenue per customer $7.41.
The loss for the quarter came in at $3.1 million, or 3 cents per share. That was a vast improvement from the loss in the fourth quarter of 2022 of $74 million, or 62 cents per share, last year, and a major beat to Wall Street projections of a loss of 28 cents per share.
Cinemark enjoyed a 30% jump in attendance to 43 million — 25.2 million in U.S. theaters — thanks to a stronger early-year slate. Along with continued turnout from holiday hit sequels “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” January films like “A Man Called Otto” and “M3GAN” brought moviegoers from a wide range of interests and demographics back to theaters.
A crowded spring slate saw sequels like “Creed III,” “Scream VI” and “John Wick: Chapter 4” open in March to domestic box office totals of over $100 million. In all, the first quarter domestic box office finished at $1.72 billion, down 28% from the $2.4 billion posted in the first quarter of 2019 but an improvement of 28% from the $1.34 billion total seen in the first quarter of 2022.
The second quarter has already gotten off to a blazing start thanks to “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which this weekend will become just the third animated film to gross over $500 million in North America and which pushed April box office totals to just under $900 million, third most for the month in industry history.
That momentum is expected to carry over into a loaded box office season that will include films like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Disney’s remake of “The Little Mermaid,” “The Flash,” and “Fast X.” So far, second-quarter domestic totals have reached $917 million, 52% ahead of last year’s pace and 9.6% ahead of the pace set in the second quarter of 2017.
Cinemark said its first-quarter box office results outpaced the overall industry’s recovery and claimed an increase in market share of 100 basis points or one percentage point since reopening after the pandemic shutdown.
“We remain highly encouraged about our industry’s ongoing recovery based on positive sustained momentum in movie-going trends, an accelerating improvement in film volume, and better than expected box office performance year-to-date,” said CEO Sean Gamble in a statement. “Consumers continue to demonstrate their avid desire to experience movies, and all forms of content, in a shared, larger-than-life, cinematic setting, and our studio partners are collectively reinforcing that there is simply no better way to amplify excitement, interest, cultural relevance, and financial value for their films than with a full-blown exclusive theatrical release.”
Furthermore, in the earnings call which followed, Cinemark SEO Sean Gamble expressed confidence in the overall health of the recovery. He stated that the ongoing WGA strike was unlikely to have much of an impact on the theatrical pipeline, noting that “our studio partners have been planning for this.” He noted that their subscription-based Movie Club had achieved 1.1 million members and that he believed streaming and theatrical to be more complimentary than adversarial. He touted that Cinemark had actually improved market share since reopening compared to pre-COVID times.
The company also said it paid down $100 million of debt on May 1 using cash on hand, but it has $2.49 billion in long-term debt outstanding, up from $2.48 billion last year.
Scott Mendelson contributed to this article.