Imax earnings plunge, sunk by tentpole desert

Firm outstrips installation goals, adds new agreements

Hit by a dearth of tentpole movies in the first quarter, Imax on Thursday said revenues in the period ending March 31 plummeted to $45 million, from $73 million in 2010 when Avatar was being shown on its large screens. And a net profit of $26 million in the first quarter last year turned to a loss of $1 million this year, largely due to a one-time charge related to stock appreciation rights.

On a positive note, CEO Rich Gelfond said the company had already surpassed its theater installation goals for 2011 in the first three months of the year, signing agreements for 101 new systems. He added that the 2011 outlook for new theater installations is increasing by 40%.

”The types of theater deals signed recently are strategically significant as they highlight two of the growth paths we are pursuing — international and small to mid-tier domestic markets,” said Gelfond.

Imax will release 15 films going forward in 2011, including ”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in May and ”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” in July.

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