Hit pix boost Alliance Atlantis revs

Grows 27% to C$522.5 million

MONTREAL — Canuck entertainment company Alliance Atlantis’ film distribution division reported boffo results for the past year powered by hit pics including “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Finding Neverland,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Motorcycle Diaries.”

Year-end revenue for the Alliance Atlantis film distribution income fund was up 27% to C$522.5 million ($430 million) compared with $338 million the previous year.

Canadian operations contributed 70% of revenue (down from 82% a year earlier), U.K. operations contributed 18% (the same as the previous year), and Spanish operations contributed 12%. This was the first year the results included Spain’s Aurum Prods.

Net earnings for the year were $50 million, up from $45 million the year before.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, revenue from the Alliance Atlantis division was $122 million, up 15% from $106 million in the fourth quarter a year earlier. Canadian operations contributed 61% (82% the previous year), U.K. operations contributed 19% (18% a year earlier), and Spanish operations contributed 20%.

As expected, revenue in Canada was down in the quarter largely due to the fact that blockbuster “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and boffo “Elf” were released during the fourth quarter a year earlier.

DVD revenue in Canada increased 19% thanks to “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Elf,” “Kill Bill Vol. 2” and “The Return of the King.” In the U.K., Momentum Pictures’ revenue increased 19% in the fourth quarter thanks to strong DVD sales from “Eternal Sunshine” and “Lost in Translation.”

Net earnings for the quarter were $12 million, almost exactly the same as a year earlier.

For the fourth consecutive year, Alliance Atlantis took the top spot in market share in Canada, with 18% of all ticket sales. DVD unit sales in Canada were up 47%. In 2004, Aurum had the largest market share of any independent distributor in Spain.

Promising upcoming pics for Alliance Atlantis include “Sin City,” “Monster-in-Law” and “Wedding Crashers.”

In the U.K., the Momentum slate for 2005 includes “The Weatherman,” “Lord of War” and “The Dark.” In Spain, the Aurum release schedule will include “In Good Company,” “Prime” and “The Dark.”

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