Loews shows loss

Exhib blames old theaters for 3rd quarter drop

Loews Cineplex Entertainment said Thursday that net losses for its fiscal third quarter widened to $24 million from $12 million the year before due to an unexpectedly steep drop in attendance at its older theaters and unfavorable film allocation at its sites in Canada.

Cash flow fell 15% for the quarter ended last November to $26 million, and revenue was about flat at $209 million, compared with $211 million the year earlier. The lackluster numbers weren’t a surprise, however, as the New York exhibitor had warned Wall Street in early December to expect more red ink.

Sluggish studios

In Canada, the studios most closely affiliated with Cineplex Odeon–Universal, Sony and Fox — failed to fire up the box office compared with rivals Par, Warner Bros. and Disney. And slipping attendance at older theaters, which many exhibs are experiencing, proved particularly problematic for Loews in areas where it doesn’t have a strong market position.

A ‘challenging time’

“During this challenging time in our industry, we are continuing to focus our efforts on adding high-impact theaters on a selective basis and aggressively closing or selling our older, underperforming theaters in order to position our circuit for maximum future performance,” said Loews Cineplex CEO Larry Ruisi.

He said the Gotham-based exhib has disposed of 134 screens in its fiscal year to date and is looking to accelerate its theater disposition program. Loews has also added nine new theaters with 136 screens since the end of August.

The company boasts 2,916 screens in 400 locations in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Loews said total attendance for the quarter eased to 29.92 million from 30.64 million, while its average ticket price in the U.S. rose to $6.17 from $5.69.

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