Boffo B.O. boosts exhib's bottom line

NEW YORK — Successful theatrical releases such as “Dante’s Peak,” “The Star Wars Special Edition” trilogy and “Liar Liar” helped Toronto-based exhibitor Cineplex Odeon move back into the black in the first quarter of 1997.

The company also benefited from the continued strength of the 1996 releases “The English Patient” and “Jerry Maguire.”

Cineplex reported net income of $2.1 million a share in the latest quarter, compared with a loss of $7.1 million in the year-earlier period.

Revenues for the circuit rose 17% to $150 million from $128 million. Admissions revenue was up 17% to $106 million while concessions revenue jumped 20% to $38.3 million. Helping to fuel the revenue growth was the addition of nine new theaters and 102 new screens.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure closely watched by Wall Street analysts, increased 49% in the quarter to $21.7 million from $14.6 million.

“We are very encouraged by the company’s healthy performance, said Cineplex Odeon president and CEO Allen Karp. “A number of our key suppliers released strong film product, which reaped great rewards at the box office and contributed to our admissions and concessions revenue growth.”

Karp continued, “Typically, major film titles are not released in the first quarter. The strong box office that we experienced during this time period substantiates the argument for the release of major films on a 12-month basis.”

Cineplex Odeon’s shares rose 4¢ to $1.25 in trading Thursday. The company is one of the largest exhibitors in North America, with 1,556 screens in 313 locations.

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