Strong ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Box Office Boosts Theater Chain Stocks

Cinemark and other theater exhibitors enjoy a rare 2020 boost, thanks in large part to the DC sequel

Wonder Woman 1984 star Gal Gadot
Warner Bros. via Patty Jenkins on Twitter

After a brutal 2020, the box office opening for “Wonder Woman 1984” has spurred a Monday rally for several movie theater chains on Wall Street — while also signaling a potential return to semi-normalcy in 2021.

Cinemark’s shares jumped 6.4% on Monday morning, while Imax also enjoyed a 3.6% boost; National CineMedia, which specializes in cinema ads, was up 4%, and Marcus Corp., which operates both cinemas and hotels — two of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic — was up 7.1% a few hours into trading on Monday.

AMC Entertainment, the nation’s largest cinema chain, was glaringly excluded from Monday’s rally, though, indicating that investors could be worried about the company’s recent warning it could run out of cash by early 2021. The company’s share price dipped 1.8% on Monday morning, adding to an already miserable year for AMC, which has seen its share price dip more than 66% since opening the year at $7.46 per share; on Monday morning, it’s trading at $2.46 per share.

The overall uptick for exhibitors comes after “Wonder Woman 1984” pulled in $16.7 million domestically, and $36 million globally, during its three-day opening weekend in theaters (at least the ones still able to remain open during the pandemic). That may be a far cry from the $100 million or more it may have made during a typical year, but compared to other releases in 2020, it’s a smash, becoming the first movie during the COVID-19 pandemic to gross over $10 million during its opening weekend.

This came despite the fact that “WW84” opened in fewer theaters than Warner Bros.’ last major release, “Tenet,” which opened on over 2,600 screens back in September. Thanks to closures forced by nationwide COVID-19 surges, “Wonder Woman 1984” opened on 2,151 screens in North America. Its relatively strong opening also coincided with the DC Films flick debuting on HBO Max on Christmas Day; Warner Bros. said nearly half of the streaming service’s subscribers watched “WW84” over the weekend.

Coupled with the rollout of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, investors on Monday look to be taking the movie’s release as an indicator the cinema business isn’t dead just yet. The opening looks to have satiated Warner, too, with the studio on Sunday confirming that a third installment has been greenlit.

Jeremy Fuster contributed to this report. 

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