Part Two’ for Keeping Box Office Afloat

By Chanak Maduranga

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Part Two’ for Keeping Box Office Afloat

Fewer tentpoles from the major studios after the dual Hollywood strikes didn’t stop Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex from bucking an industry trend and posting higher box office revenues in its first financial quarter of 2024.

Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob gave credit to French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s promotion for Dune: Part Two for his theater chain’s revenue rise to $125.1 million in its first quarter.

Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter that Cineplex and Warner Bros. partnered to bring Villeneuve and Dune star Timothée Chalamet to the Fairmount Cinema on Feb. 28 as the only stop in Canada on a promotional tour for the sequel.

“On the first weekend, the Fairmount Cinema and its Imax screen was the highest grossing theater in North America. That tells you when the team is behind it, the film does really well and he [Villeneuve] really put a lot of effort into it,” Jacob recalled.

Cineplex increasing its box office during the first three months of the year came amid a 6 percent overall decline in the first quarter North American box office for Hollywood films, compared to 2023. Jacob added he’s optimistic after attending CinemaCon about the tentpole releases to come from his major studio suppliers through to the end of the year and into 2025.

“I came out of there feeling really good about the business going forward. We’ve had a tough time with COVID. We’ve had a tough time with the strikes. But now there’s an opportunity as we see it to move through to the second half of this year, and even the next number of months will be fine,” Jacob reported.

As the Hollywood studios steered fewer movie to exhibitors during the first quarter, Cineplex also put more international movies on its screens. During the latest quarter, around 13 percent of box office revenues came from international films, led by the Punjabi language titles.

Jacob told THR that Cineplex was using artificial intelligence and other data analytics to better target diverse communities across Canada looking to go out to see movies from Bollywood, China and the Middle East. “Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have put a Bollywood movie in Sudbury. But now I do because there’s a huge student population there,” the Cineplex boss said of a growing movie market in northern Ontario.

During the first quarter, total revenue at Cineplex rose 1.2 percent to $294.8 million, against $291.4 million in the prior year, while the company swung to net income in the first quarter at $5.2 million, from a loss of $30.2 million in 2023.

During the latest quarter, Cineplex recognized a $67.3 million gain from selling Player One Amusement Group for $155 million. The proceeds were used in part to pay down debt, including extending bond maturity obligations.  

Weaker box office from Hollywood studio suppliers coming out of the dual strikes in Los Angeles last year had theatre attendance rising barely 1 percent to 9.81 million patrons for Cineplex.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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