MDIF posts turnaround

Alliance Atlantis distrib unit earns in Q2

The Movie Distribution Income Fund, Alliance Atlantis Communication’s distrib arm, posted a turnaround Friday, attributed by company brass to an uptick in the three territories in which it operates.

An income fund controlled by Alliance Atlantis Communications, MDIF posted net earnings for the quarter ended March 31 of C$700,000 ($632,000), a turnaround from a loss of $3.2 million in the first three months of 2005.

Revenue for the quarter declined slightly, to $92.8 million from $95.5 million.

The company, Canada’s leading film distributor, also distributes pics in the U.K. and Spain through subsids Momentum Pictures and Aurum Producciones, respectively.

Prexy-CEO Patrice Theroux said last year’s numbers were kneecapped by a poor release slate. “In particular,” said Theroux, “results for our Canadian operations more accurately reflect the performance of this business as compared to the prior year’s quarter.”

MDIF’s Canadian operations revenue for the quarter slipped 2% to $67.5 million, despite a boffo B.O. perf from “Brokeback Mountain” (with receipts of $11.3 million to date) and an uptick in DVD sales, thanks in part to “Wedding Crashers” and “A History of Violence.”

In the U.K., revenue dipped slightly to $17.2 million from $18.6 million. Last year’s U.K. theatrical revenue was strong due to strong perfs by “Racing Stripes” and “Vera Drake,” but the U.K. slate this time around was a mixed bag. “Just Friends” turned in a B.O. gross of £5.9 million ($11 million), the second-best release for the company’s U.K. operations, while “The Weatherman” fell short of expectations.

Aurum revenue was up slightly to $8.1 million, with gains in theatrical and TV sales offsetting a decrease in DVD revenue. Three titles were released theatrically during the quarter, compared to one the year before.

There were several bright spots for the company in the quarter. Library revenue climbed 26% to $14.5 million. The company inked a long-term supply agreement with the Weinstein Co. and renewed output deals with Focus Features and New Line to 2008.

Theroux elaborated on Union Station Media, the company’s recently announced joint venture with Oz-based Arclight Films to distribute films in ancillary markets Stateside. Union Station Media plans to release one title per month for the remainder of the year, with hopes to increase that to two per month in 2007, he said.

“We do not expect this venture to make a significant contribution this year,” Theroux said, “but it’s building a presence and an expertise in a very large market from the video and ancillary rights perspective. … It compliments nicely our acquisition efforts for Canada, the U.K. and Spain.”

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