Results after triple disaster not as bad as expected

Tokyo — Toho, Japan’s biggest studio, distributor and exhibitor, forecasts net profit will fall 12% to $130 million for the fiscal year ending in February — $34 million better than its previous estimate.

The reason for the brighter outlook is that the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima reactor meltdown did not hit box office takings as hard as had been expected.

In the aftermath of the disasters, Toho and other exhibs expected power blackouts to cut severely into summer B.O. But power savings prevented the blackouts and theaters operated at near-normal levels during the peak summer months.

In April, the company projected that the disasters would trim $104 million from sales and $52 million from pre-tax profit, but the actual impact was far lower.

Toho now expects an 8% drop in sales to $2.2 billion and a 27% plunge in pre-tax profit to $222 million. This represents $47 million more in projected sales and $55 million in profit over the previous forecast.

In the first nine months of the year, B.O. for the Toho chain totaled $436 million or 79% of the same period the previous year. The drop, Toho said, may be have been due to the weakness of its slate, a change in audience psychology following the disasters or some combination of both.

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