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UA ink now runs black

Theater circuit's revs increase 6.2% to $158.6 mil

A stream of black ink continued to flow at United Artists Theater Circuit, a testament to the curative powers of Chapter 11 reorganization and a strong summer B.O.

Despite a 9.5% decrease in the number of screens operated vs. a year ago, the circuit posted a 6.2% increase in revenue to $158.6 million for the three months ended Sept. 27.

At the bottom line, profits were $6.2 million compared with a $40.2 million loss last year.

The theater circuit and its parent, United Artists Theater Co., filed for bankruptcy last year and emerged with a clean balance sheet in March. Entertainment entrepreneur Philip Anschutz gained control of the circuit in exchange for paying off debt.

Due to the effects of the Chapter 11 reorganization, company officials noted financial results are not strictly comparable year-to-year.

CEO Kurt Hall said the circuit is moving to upgrade many of its theaters with stadium seating, high-back rocker chairs, digital sound and other amenities.

“Given the continued strength of the industry fundamentals, our low financial leverage and significantly improved liquidity and operating margins, we are now very well positioned to defend and strengthen our key market positions and look for additional ways to improve our profitability,” Hall said.

UA operates 1,559 screens in 206 locations.

Like most of the exhibition business, UA was crippled by debt from a building spree in the late 1990s and hobbled by long-term leases on older, underperforming theaters. The circuit, along with about a dozen others, filed for bankruptcy to alleviate these problems.

(Carl DiOrio contributed to this report.)

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