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Imax revs down due to fewer new theaters

Exhib posting $5.8 mil loss

Giant-screen exhibitor Imax Corp., which is in the process of selling itself, posted a strong quarter in film rentals, but lost money overall due to fewer new Imax installations.

Company installed one new Imax theater in the first quarter of this year, compared with three a year ago.

Revenue for the first quarter ending March 31 dropped to $20.4 million, down from $31.4 million. Company spilled $5.8 million in red ink, compared with a profit of $1.2 million last year.

Film revenue was $6.5 million, up 33%, despite a disappointing showing from “V for Vendetta,” which has grossed $5.6 million at the box office. Strong film performers in the quarter included “Polar Express,” “Deep Sea 3-D” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Imax Experience.”

During the quarter Imax inked contracts for eight theater systems, six of them in North America.

“We are pleased that we remain on track to grow Imax’s signings and installations — the two most important metrics of our growth — in 2006 above our exceptionally strong 2005 results,” said co-CEOs Rich Gelfond and Brad Wechsler. “Given our solid film slate and the large amount of interest we are seeing from commercial exhibitors, we believe the company will benefit from significant momentum as we look to the remainder of the year.”

Imax toppers said sale of the firm is proceeding well. “We just entered the second round and are pleased to be evaluating proposals from a broad range of interested parties,” said Wechsler and Gelfond.

Company brass called the 2006 film slate “the strongest ever,” with seven films, five in 3-D, including “Superman Returns,” the first Hollywood feature to be converted from 2-D to 3-D for day and date release. A new film will unspool every six to eight weeks for the remainder of the year.

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