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Imax Tops Q3 Earnings Expectations on Huge China Growth

The company’s Chinese box office soars more than 30 percent over the summer

Imax Corp. reported earnings for the third quarter that exceeded Wall Street expectations thanks, in part, to continued success in blockbuster and event content and the company’s growing footprint in China.

Imax said in its third-quarter earnings report on Thursday that the Greater China box office increased 30.5 percent in the third quarter, compared to last year, driven by a compelling slate of Hollywood and Chinese local language blockbusters.

The premium format exhibitor reported adjusted earnings of 14 cents per share, up from 8 cents per share during the same three-month period a year ago. Imax’s third-quarter earnings were also above Wall Street’s expectations for 11 cents per share, according to estimates gathered by Yahoo Finance.

Revenue for the quarter hit $82.1 million, which was down 20 percent compared with the $98.8 million the company reported during the same quarter last year. The company’s reported revenue was, however, just above Wall Street’s expectations of $80.5 million for the quarter.

“Our momentum from the first half of 2018 continued into the third quarter. Compelling blockbuster content from Hollywood and China, coupled with our ongoing focus on controlling costs helped drive our third consecutive quarter of operating margin expansion,” Imax CEO  Richard Gelfond said in a statement. “Looking ahead, we expect many of the factors contributing to our strong performance this year to benefit the Company into 2019 and beyond including the rapidly evolving media landscape. The convergence of streaming and traditional media platforms creates interesting opportunities for Imax.

“We are increasingly seeing content creators seeking to attract top filmmakers, eventize the launch of new content and broaden the consumer reach of that content,” Gelfond continued. “Our 1,400-plus theatre network across nearly 80 countries affords filmmakers the opportunity to launch their content in a highly-differentiated, premium format. We are in active discussions across these converging platforms and believe Imax has a unique opportunity to influence the emerging trends in our industry and be a direct beneficiary of the evolving landscape.”

During Imax’s quarterly conference call, Imax Entertainment president Greg Foster said that “The Meg” Paramount Pictures’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” were the two films during the quarter that fueled the company’s box office both in the U.S. and China.

Management spent a good portion of the call touting the Imax DNA, such as the increased aspect ratio and Imax cameras, being used in an increasing number of films — most recently in Universal’s “First Man.”

Upcoming films that will use some version of the Imax DNA include Disney’s “Avengers 4” and “The Lion King,” as well as “Wonder Woman 1984” and the Chinese film “Detective Chinatown 3.”