'Hereafter,' 'Company' key to quarter gains

TORONTO — Sales of pics “The Sweet Hereafter” and “In the Company of Men” pumped up first-quarter profit at Alliance Communications Corp.

The Toronto-based company, arguably Canada’s biggest entertainment company, said distribution of “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” “The English Patient” and “Shine” also helped swell profit for the three months ended June 30 to C$4.8-million ($3.5 million) from C$995,000 ($716,400) a year earlier.

The latest profit figure excludes a $2.2 million gain from the sale of half its 14% interest in Mainframe Entertainment Inc. of Vancouver, which produces the computer animated series “ReBoot.”

Revenue topped $47.9 million compared with $45.7 million in the first quarter last year.

Alliance’s motion picture unit reported a 27.8% increase in revenue, which rose to $30.1 million in the period. However, television revenue fell 47% to $8.4 million.

“It’s pretty impressive to see these kinds of results even when the TV division isn’t delivering as much product,” said Roger Dent, an analyst with Yorkton Securities Inc. in Toronto.

Alliance said it actually delivered more TV shows in the latest period, but two big-budget pilot episodes in the first quarter last year, including the two-hour “Once a Thief,” inflated year-ago sales figures.

Revenue at Alliance Equicap, the company’s financial arm, rose dramatically from a year earlier, when concerns about the marketability of tax shelters were at their peak. And the broadcasting division, which owns Showcase Television and History Television, posted higher advertising and subscriber revenue.

The multimedia division reported lower revenue because it delivered only one episode of “Captain Star” in the latest quarter, compared with five episodes of “Beast Wars” a year earlier.

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