Revenues from its chain of theaters helped Chinese film studio Bona Film Group weather a weak quarter for its distribution activities.
The NASDAQ-listed Bona reported a 21% drop in revenues in the July-September quarter to $79 million. Net income dropped from $5.9 million in the equivalent period last year to $0.8 million.
The company’s top films in the quarter were “Bride Wars,” which earned $27.2 million (RMB173 million) at the box office, and “The Dead End,” which took $48 million (RMB305 million). Over the first nine months of the year, Bona claimed healthier box office revenues of RMB2.86 billion, for an 8.5% share of nationwide grosses.
The theaters business enjoyed a 55% increase in revenues – slightly ahead of nationwide box office growth – reaching $33.8 million in the period. The company owns and operates 30 theaters with 250 screens. In a conference call with financial analysts, Bona chairman and CEO Yu Dong said that it aims to expand to 100 theaters with a combines 800 screens in the next three years.
In a major event that occurred after the quarter, Bona committed to invest $235 million in a slate of films distributed by 20th Century Fox. The company explained that the deal largely concerns its Bona Film fund and that the investment is structured as an investment in TSG Entertainment, with a credit facility from East West Bank. “This will enable Bona to participate in 20% of the global box office of the films we participate in,” said Bon’s finance director Nicholas Qi. “Fox will remain responsible for global distribution.
The first of the Fox movies committed to by Bona, “The Martian” released on Wednesday in China. It achieved a single day gross of $6.4 million, ranking it top ahead of “Our Times” in second place, “the Transporter Refuelled” in third, and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2” in fourth.