Exhibs feel profit pinch

UA's, Carmike's, Regal's revs rise

Three theater operators reported second-quarter earnings Tuesday, with the largest, Regal Cinemas, posting a 4% dip in cash flow to $43 million as revenue rose 24% to $263 million.

Regal, which is not publicly traded, said it completed the quarter with 4,004 screens in operation, from 2,467 the year earlier. Revenue increases from expansion did not translate to increased profits on a pro forma basis due to start-up and promotional costs, declines in the national box office results in early fiscal 1999 and high film costs associated with “Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace.”

United Artists Theatre Group, which is also a privately held company, reported second quarter revenues of $167.5 million, up 8.1% from the year before. Net losses were $18.7 million, less than the $30.9 million loss in the second quarter of 1998.

President and CEO Kurt C. Hall praised the company’s newer theaters, particularly the Union Square 14 in New York City, which he said is one of the highest-grossing theaters in North America. He said the company planned to continue its program of renovating older theaters and opening new complexes.

However, he noted that the company does not anticipate being able to repay bank loans that are due on Aug. 30 and is hoping to renegotiate those loans.

At Carmike Cinemas Inc., net income for the second quarter fell to $3.1 million from $4 million the year before as revenue rose 13% to $125 million. Cash flow rose 41%, which Carmike chief Michael Patrick attributed to higher per-screen attendance, especially at the company’s newer theaters.

He said overall attendance per screen rose 8.6% over 1998 levels. Carmike, based in Columbus, Ga., is on track to open 348 screens by the end of the year, Patrick said.

Carmike’s board also authorized a stock repurchase plan. The company, which didn’t discuss details of the plan, has nearly 10 million shares outstanding.

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