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General Cinemas sees red

Attendance drop causes 2nd qtr. loss of $4.1 mil

NEW YORK — A sharp downturn in attendance for General Cinemas sent its parent GC Companies Inc. into the red in the second fiscal quarter ended April 30, it said Tuesday, when it lost $4.1 million compared with a profit of $1.6 million a year earlier.

General Cinemas’ revenue dropped 18% to $89 million in the quarter, mainly as a result of a sharp decline in admissions.

GC president Richard Smith said the theater performance “primarily reflects a lack of strong film product (and) the impact of competition in certain of our markets,” as well as the impact of screen sales over the past year. GC operated 1,150 screens at the end of April compared with 1,174 a year earlier.

“Titanic” drove strong box office attendance in the period but Smith said the film releases “overall did not compare favorably to the success of several unusually popular films in the prior-year quarter, including the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.”

GC had an operating loss, before interest and taxes, of $8.2 million, compared with an operating profit of $2.8 million in the quarter. GC stock closed down 19¢ to $50.25 Tuesday.