Weak summer pics sent profits plummeting

Philip Anschutz’s Regal Entertainment offset what could have been a substantial drop in box office revenue this summer through the addition of new screens. But weak tentpoles still sent profits plummeting.

Screens from two recent acquisitions helped revenue inch up 2.8% to $628 million. Company bought North Carolina-based exhib Eastern Federal and California’s Signature within the last year. Acquisitions increased total screens by 574, or about 8%, at the Knoxville, Tenn.-based exhib, the nation’s largest.

But net income slumped 38% from the summer of 2004, to $17 million, as summer pics such as “War of the Worlds” faltered compared to ’04 blockbusters such as “Spider-Man 2.”

Profit fell a bit short of Wall Street’s expectations. Regal, one of only two publicly traded theater companies, saw its stock dip 2.49% to $18.78 Thursday.

Overall concession revenue increased 6.5% to $165 million.

Higher ticket prices also boosted coin. Average cost of a ticket increased 4.2% at the exhib compared to a year earlier.

Regal operates 6,537 screens in 40 states. It achieved its bulk by buying up United Artists and Edwards Theaters during a period of massive consolidation in the exhibition biz in the late 1990s.

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