Imax has continued to dig out from a global pandemic that devastated the theatrical movie business, posting its best quarterly results since COVID-19 became a facet of daily life. At the same time, the big screen company made it clear that it is setting its horizons behind the latest new releases, talking up the opportunities it sees in launching special events with filmmakers and musical artists.
Revenue at the company topped out at $108.6 million, a 94% year-over-year improvement, while the company reported earnings of 17 cents a share compared with a year-ago loss of 36 cents. Imax also reported net income of $10.1 million, compared to the $21.2 million in losses that it logged roughly a year ago. Those figures topped Wall Street’s projections, which sent shares climbing more than 7 percent in after-hours trading.
Imax was bolstered by some popular big screen successes, notably “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which beat the pandemic odds to become one of the most popular film releases in history. But the company has also worked to widen its array of offerings during the end of 2021. In December, Imax teamed with Amazon Music to stream a Kanye West and Drake concert to several of its North American venues and also offered up a one-night only screening of Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” along with a Q&A with the director and star Frances McDormand that streamed from its Lincoln Square location to 22 theaters worldwide. Imax also screened Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Disney Plus documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back” complete with an interview with the filmmaker.
On a call with analysts, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said that live events similar to what Imax pulled off with Drake and West will be crucial to the company’s strategy going forward. West was so happy with the results that he teamed with the exhibitor on another concert on Tuesday. Imax is offering up its cameras and technology to capture the music in a more immersive way and as a lure to fans who might not be in the geographic proximity of Ye’s latest show.
“We believe this is significant opportunity for us — live-cinema music events that exponentially grow an artist’s reach without sacrificing the quality and intimacy of an in-person experience,” Gelfond said. “In fact, in some ways, we top that in-person experience — with crystal clear, stunning visuals and sound capabilities that approximate what it’s like to sit in the front row of a live event.”
The decision could be a critical one as studios are releasing fewer films theatrically and spending more resources on their streaming services. Imax has been cushioned from these shifts, in part because it tends to highlight the kind of superhero and action fare that major movie companies are still producing for cinemas. However, the box office has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Imax reported that it had total cash and cash equivalents of $189.7 million on its books, along with debt of $233.6 million.