We've Got Hollywood Covered

IMAX Q4 Earnings Drop From Last Year

Canadian film production and exhibition company has 57 theater installations in fourth quarter, signs contracts for 16 more

IMAX Corporation released Q4 2014 financials on Thursday before the U.S. stock markets opened, reporting earnings per share (EPS) of $0.30 on $102.4 million in revenue. Both marks did well per industry estimates, though the numbers were still below those set in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Wall Street analysts had forecast EPS of $0.25-$0.31. Yahoo Finance had the per share earnings estimated at $0.30 on $95.28 million in revenue; Zacks predicted $0.25 on $95 million.

For the comparable fourth quarter of 2013, IMAX had reported EPS of $0.41 on $105.1 million in revenue.

Last quarter, Q3 of 2014, IMAX met Wall Street’s expectations with its $0.11 per share earning growth. Richard L. Gelfond, the company’s chief executive officer, credited the success to a strong box office across a growing theater network.

Commenting Thursday on his company’s reported numbers for both Q4 and the full fiscal year, Gelfond stated, “We achieved a great deal over the course of 2014, including the completion of our world-class laser projection system, the sale of a 20% stake in our China business, the signing of long term film deals with most major studios and continued network growth. We believe these accomplishments position us well, not only to take advantage of the 2015 film slate, which is already off to a great start, but also to help drive long-term growth.”

IMAX exhibited several major releases in Q4 of 2014 that played well on the company’s giant screens, including Christopher Nolan‘s outer-space epic “Interstellar” and Peter Jackson‘s Middle Earth finale “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

The company also saw 57 new theater installations in the fourth quarter, bringing full year totals to 121 installations across 24 countries, and signed contracts for 16 more theaters in Q4, bringing 2014 signings to a total 118 theater systems, replenishing backlog to 397 theater systems.

Looking ahead, IMAX is poised for a big 2015. As TheWrap previously reported, it has already scored big with Clint Eastwood’s war saga “American Sniper.” There are also a slew of IMAX-friendly films on the cinematic horizon, including  “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the James Bond movie “Spectre,” “Jurassic World” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The company also fared well in January with a special screening of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” leading to a $1.5 million single weekend take, which could possibly pave the way for other TV shows to visit the extra big IMAX screens.

“Of all the companies in the exhibition sector, I don’t think any are positioned better for 2015 than IMAX,” B. Riley analyst exhibition specialist Eric Wold told TheWrap in January.

On Wednesday, a day before it released Q4’s financials, IMAX stock (IMAX) closed down at $33.26 per share. Overall, the stock price was up 7.64 percent year-to-date. It continued to rise after the numbers were released Thursday morning.

Following the Q4 earnings report, IMAX held a conference call for investors and reporters to explain the numbers and set the stage for the new fiscal year.

IMAX executives are enthusiastic about the company’s 2015 release schedule, mentioning that 51 out of the 52 weeks had already been booked domestically with highly anticipated films like “Star Wars: Force Awakens,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” “Jurassic World” and even “The Walk,” a biopic with Joseph Gordon-Levitt portraying high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who famously attempted to walk between the Twin Towers in 1974.

But Greg Foster, Chairman of IMAX Entertainment — the division of the IMAX Corporation that works with the movie studios — said the company plans to exhibit all types of titles, even erotic dramas like last weekend’s Universal Pictures’ blockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“We are definitely going to continue to support — more than anything else — our pillar titles … the Chris Nolan movies, the Marvel movies, ‘Star Wars,'” he said. “But we are also going to continue to show, within shoulder periods, more flexibility to meet demands of moviegoers.”

“We can’t say, ‘This is the movie we’re going to play,’ and only play fan-boy movies,” he continued, citing “American Sniper,” “Game of Thrones” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” as examples of films which performed successfully despite not necessarily being “pillar” IMAX titles.