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IMAX Has Blockbuster 3rd Quarter Earnings, Spurred by ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘It’

What slump? Giant screen company’s sales were up 18 percent year-over-year

It wasn’t a blockbuster summer for Hollywood, but that didn’t stop IMAX from reporting a banner third quarter earnings on Thursday, with major releases like “Dunkirk” and “It” pushing the giant-screen company to an 18 percent year-over-year increase at the domestic box office.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, IMAX reported $98.8 million million in revenue and an adjusted earnings per share of 8 cents. That compares with the $86.6 million in revenue and earnings of $0.12 cents a share IMAX hauled in during the corresponding period last year. Analysts had expected the company to report revenue of $86.4 million and earnings of 1 cent per share.


“Despite overall cinema industry challenges, it was our strongest third quarter ever, underpinned by our outperformance on blockbuster-titles such as ‘Dunkirk.’ Internationally, box office from our international, ex-China network, now exceeds that of our domestic business,” said  CEO Rich Gelfond in a statement.

“In fact, we grew box office in this segment by 25 percent year-over-year. And given 25 percent of our backlog is slated for markets outside of North America and China, we anticipate this piece of our business to become even more meaningful over time.”

IMAX’s domestic box office was up 18 percent, despite overall ticket sales declining 14 percent for the industry. The company pulled in about $219 million in gross domestic box office — up from $186.3 during the third quarter of 2016. Gelfond noted it was the company’s “highest-grossing third quarter ever.”

Internationally, IMAX added about $5 million year-over-year in China, hovering near $60 million for the third quarter.

On the company’s conference call on Thursday, Gelfond said IMAX was able to weather Hollywood’s poor summer because its bread-and-butter remains blockbuster experiences like Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.”

It’d been a rough year to date for IMAX, with its shares falling about 33 percent since the beginning of 2017. After back-to-back underwhelming quarters, IMAX was relying on a strong summer slate to rally its performance.

The critically panned “Marvel’s Inhumans” debuted on IMAX screens in September, but failed to make much of an impact, despite premiering weeks ahead of its TV launch. Gelfond gave it a lukewarm review himself, saying it did “fine” in its opening weekend.

IMAX was sent scrambling after the smashing release of “It,” working to get the horror flick on as many screen as it could. Despite the belated reaction, the move ended up paying off, with “It” raking in more than $10 million — setting an IMAX box office record for a September release in the process.

“Dunkirk” was another major player for IMAX in the third quarter, with the movie taking in 23 percent of its total box office receipts on the giant screen. The company also pointed to the movie’s strong international performance in countries like Japan and India.

IMAX added 49 new theater installations during the third quarter, adding it expects to install about 165 for the year.

Moving forward, IMAX pointed to its continued push into virtual reality, along with robust pre-sales for “The Last Jedi,” as reasons the company expects to close out 2017 on a high note.

Shares of IMAX are trading up about 1 percent in pre-market trading.