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Imax revs down $2 mil from Q2 2002

Quarter hits $34.8 mil; exec eyes 'year over year' results

A correction was made to this story on Aug. 1, 2003.

TORONTO — Imax’s bottom line dropped to $969,000 for the second quarter of 2003 as the big-screen theater company redoubled its efforts to focus on its digital re-mastering system and pay down debt.

Toronto-based Imax earnings for the second quarter ended June 30 were down from the $3 million the company netted a year ago. “It’s consistent with the guidance we’ve given,” Imax co-CEO and co-prexy Brad Wechsler told Daily Variety. “We’re saying, ‘look at Imax year over year — the quarters are a little lumpy.’ ”

Revenue for the quarter was $34.8 million, down from $38.8 million posted last year.

Imax has not had a hit release to measure up to last year’s “Space Station” and, as a result, film revenue dropped 43% to $7.5 million. Systems revenue for the quarter rose 7% to $22.1 million, and other revenue climbed 6% to $5.2 million.

Company brass is working to get the word out to Hollywood that re-mastering 36mm films for the big screen gives studio films legs. Execs point out that eight weeks after its Imax launch, “The Matrix Reloaded: The Imax Experience” has fallen just 12% from the week previous and has earned about $1 million per week for the first seven.

“In a summer where films are seeing rapid weekly declines at the box office,” Wechsler and co-CEO and co-prexy Rich Gelfond said, “the Imax numbers are extraordinary and are demonstrating that an Imax DMR release can extend the run of an event film.”

A plump bottom line for a re-mastered film like “Matrix” takes time to work its way down the pipe for Imax, however. Since Imax holds neither ownership nor distribution rights, it’s the theaters and studios that enjoy the re-mastered films’ B.O. proceeds.

“You can’t compare ‘Space Station’ with ‘Matrix,’ ” Wechsler explained. “The way we make our money is through the licensing of our theater systems.”

The company reduced its debt during the quarter by $39 million to $170 million, and over the course of two years has cut its overall debt by more than 40%. Also during the quarter, Imax inked deals for five Imax theater systems in Mexico and China with an option for three more in China, compared to two in the same quarter last year. Imax has 235 Imax theaters in 34 countries.