MGM Revenue, Net Income Rise on ‘Hobbit’ Finale, TV Licensing Deals

The end of “The Hobbit” trilogy and a growing television business filled Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s coffers during the first quarter of 2015, boosting revenue and net income at the studio behind the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations.

Revenue rose 8.3% to $364.5 million for the three-month period ending in March, while net income jumped 27% to $56.8 million.

It was a quarter that fielded the box office disappointment “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” but that theatrical revenue was not recognized in the earnings period. Strong tickets sales for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” goosed revenue from the company’s motion picture arm, but the big winner for MGM was its television licensing business. Revenue for that unit climbed a hefty 66% to $193.5 million, fueled by new licensing deals for past hits such as “Skyfall” and the delivery of more episodes of “The Vikings.”

The smallscreen contributions papered over declines in other sectors of MGM’s business. The company’s worldwide theatrical revenue fell to $96.2 million for the most recent quarter, down from $110.7 million a year ago, while home entertainment revenue dropped from $49.9 million to $46.6 million.

On the film side, “Hot Pursuit,” a cop comedy the studio released with Warner Bros., floundered at the box office last weekend, but it has a remake of “Poltergeist” set to debut on Memorial Day weekend. The slate also boasts such projects as the “Ben-Hur” remake, the Rocky spinoff “Creed” and the James Bond sequel “Spectre” that could score with audiences.

Investors are also bullish on United Artists Media Group, a joint venture the company launched last fall with Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Hearst Productions to field faith-based programming.

MGM is a privately held company, but it has been making its financial results public since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2010.

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