Alliance partnership sees growth

B.O. gains in Canada and U.K. propel earnings

MONTREAL — Alliance Atlantis’ Motion Picture Distribution Limited Partnership reported growth in revenues and cash flow for the first quarter thanks to the strong performance of pics in Canada and the U.K.

Results were helped by robust box office in Canada for “Cold Mountain” and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and, in the U.K., “Lost in Translation,” which scored big for AA’s Momentum Pictures.

The Motion Picture Distribution Limited Partnership was created in October. The Movie Distribution Income Fund holds 49% equity in the partnership, and Alliance Atlantis holds 51%. The partnership includes all the assets of Alliance Atlantis’ motion picture distribution group.

For the three months ended March 31, the partnership had revenues of C$99.3 million ($72 million), up from $68 million in the first quarter last year. (All comparisons are vs. results of the first quarter last year of Alliance Atlantis’ motion picture distribution group, which transformed into the partnership in the fall.)

Canadian operations contributed 82% of revenue, compared with 83% last year; U.K. contributions made up the difference.

Cash flow for the quarter was $10 million, compared with $9 million in the first quarter the previous year. Canadian operations contributed 92% of cash flow, 3% down, and U.K. operations contributed 8%, compared with 5% last year.

Net earnings were $9 million for the quarter, virtually flat with the first quarter last year.

The positive results come from strong sales for theatrical and DVD/video in Canada and the U.K. The partnership is also continuing to see strong sales from its pic library to broadcasters as well as increasing revenues from pay TV and video-on-demand.

Execs also underlined the particularly robust performance of “The Return of the King” in Canada.

Canada’s typical share of the overall North American box office on any given title is less than 10%, but Canadian ticket sales for “Return of the King” accounted for 16% of overall North American box office for the pic. It has grossed more than $36 million in Canada.

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