'Avatar' helps drive earnings at large-screen exhib

Imax announced today what was predicted to be a record-breaking first quarter for the large-screen exhib, with total revenue up a giant 120% over the comparable period last year.

The company boasted $72.8 million in reported total revenue, compared to $33.1 million in 2009.

Beating the street, Imax earned an adjusted net income of 53 cents per diluted share, which was up 18 cents from consensus exits. Reported net income was also up by 27¢ for a total take of 40¢ per diluted share.

According to the report, commercial film drove Imax’s first quarter performance, led by 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar,” which earned $231 million worldwide on 260 Imax screens.

“We are very pleased with our first quarter financial results,” Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said in a statement. “Our strong operating and financial performance demonstrates what can happen when great films are combined with our growing theater network.”

Imax reported it signed deals with a total 41 theaters during the first quarter, more than the entire 2009 fiscal year. The company inked only three deals during last year’s first quarter.

Imax will next screen Paramount and Marvel’s “Iron Man 2″ for a two-week run when it launches Stateside May 7. This weekend marks the end of the company’s six-week run of 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon,” which to date has posted approximately $26.3 million worldwide.

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