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Losses for Cinemaxx carry into ’03

$10 mil loan drags on German exhib

COLOGNE — Teutonic multiplex operator CinemaxX has reported losses for 2002 and the first half of 2003, blaming hot summers, a slump in auds and increasing piracy.

The company cited internal reasons for the delay in releasing last year’s figures, when ticket sales fell to e184 million ($200 million) from $209 million in 2001.

Although it lowered its net loss from $33 million to $29 million, it claimed it could have performed better if it hadn’t been for its withdrawal from theater chain Ufa, resulting in a writeoff of a $10 million loan. CinemaxX showed concern about an extremely weak second half with a 30% drop of visitors for August and September 2002.

Crowds haven’t returned in the first half of 2003. With “Goodbye, Lenin” the only grosser in excess of 5 million tickets, in comparison with five blockbusters in the first half of 2002, CinemaxX lost $10.6 million, vs. a loss of $7.6 million in the first six months of 2002.

Sales dropped by 10% to $100 million compared with the first half of 2002. Execs are pinning their hopes on upcoming films, cooler weather and a crackdown on piracy.

CinemaxX decrease is in line with the performance of Germany’s theater industry in general in the first half, not yet including the effect of record temperatures in July and August. For nine weekends, theaters had less than 1 million visitors. By mid-August this figure had only risen to 1.5 million.

CinemaxX’s performance affected producer-distrib Senator’s figures, released last week, which holds a 25% stake in the chain. Belgian operator Kinepolis has a similar stake and the Flebbe family holds 33%.