Attendance jump can't offset 26% drop in annual sales

SYDNEY — A strong rebound in the fortunes of Village Roadshow’s restructured international cinema empire wasn’t enough to offset its dwindling revenues and profits in the financial year ending June 30.

Asset sales, write-downs and currency losses resulted in a 26% drop in annual sales to $A794.8 million ($437.1 million) and a 7% fall in net profit to $28.1 million, VRL said last week.

The exhib unit saw a 40% jump in sales as annual attendance improved by 19% to 106 million. That division posted pretax income of $15.7 million, a turnaround from the previous year’s loss.

After unloading its cinema interests in India, Thailand and Malaysia, the company operates 1,514 screens in 11 countries. It plans to add 12 sites with 112 screens in the current year in markets including Taiwan, South Korea and Italy.

Managing director Graham Burke said ticket sales at its theaters improved by an average of 18% in July and August.

The film production unit, which co-produces movies with Warner Bros., experienced a 35.7% fall in pretax profit to $13 million as fewer films were produced during the year.

The company’s bottom line was hit by currency losses in Argentina and a 10% drop in B.O. revenues in that economically depressed territory, and by floating 42% of Australian radio division Austereo.

“Our overall result was excellent given the dilutive effect of the float of Austereo,” Burke said. “Exhibition has rebounded strongly and is a major contributor of earnings.”

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