Gaumont ’99 profits dip

Film company reports $8.9 mil, tix sales down

PARIS — Gaumont, the world’s oldest film company, has reported 1999 profits of 58 million francs ($8.9 million), down from $15.4 million the previous year. Revenues for the same period rose just under 1% to $280 million.

The Gallic company, which has interests in production, distribution and exhibition, explained the drop in profits as being largely on account of a general decline in cinema attendance.

1999 saw 155 million tickets sold in France, compared with 170 million in 1998. The slump had a negative impact on Gaumont’s exhibition business, where revenues slipped from $147 million to $139 million.

Gaumont chairman Nicolas Seydoux has given orders for the company to concentrate its efforts on investment in film production and the exhibition sector. That has meant jettisoning TV production subsid Gaumont Television and the production of animation series at Gaumont Multimedia.

Informed sources have told Daily Variety that both sectors tied up considerable investment but only reaped profits over the long term and that Seydoux prefers to channel that funding into films and screens.

In exhibition, Gaumont is set to open a series of multiplexes this year. A 12-screen plex will be unveiled north of Metz in the spring, followed by a 10-screen hardtop destined for Saint-Etienne, a 12-screen cinema in Reims and the first phase of an eventual 16-screen plex in Angers.