'Fahrenheit' burning up Canuck screens

MONTREAL — Alliance Atlantis’ Motion Picture Distribution posted strong financial results for the second quarter thanks to boffo video and DVD sales for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in Canada and Spain and robust ticket sales in Canada for “Kill Bill Vol. 2” and “The Punisher.”

Revenue for the three months ended June 30 was C$159.1 million ($121 million), up from $48 million a year earlier. Canuck operations contributed 69% of revenue (down from 73% last year), the U.K. 18% (down from 27% last year) and the company’s new Spanish operations 13%. In May, Alliance Atlantis acquired Spanish film distributor Aurum Producciones.

Cash flow for the quarter was $15 million, up from $10 million the previous year. Net earnings from Alliance Atlantis’ film distribution division were $13 million, up from $7 million in the second quarter last year.

“Our acquisition of Aurum … was an important step in our growth strategy to expand into key European markets and advanced our plan to increase the geographic diversification of our earnings base,” said Partnership CEO Victor Loewy.

Moore big B.O.

In Canada, Alliance Atlantis did well at the box office in the quarter with “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “The Punisher,” “Ella Enchanted” and from early returns from Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Docu was released just six days before the end of the quarter in Canada and generated $2.8 million during that period. “9/11” has gone on to pass the $100 million mark at the box office in North America, and its Canuck box office represents roughly 16% of overall North American ticket sales — significantly higher than Canada’s usual North American box office share, which is around 10%.

Other than “Return of the King,” Alliance had strong DVD returns in Canada from “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” “Scary Movie 3” and “Cold Mountain.” Its U.K. company, Momentum Pictures, delivered solid results from the pics “Wondrous Oblivion” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

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