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Cineplex falls into the red Add to ...

Cineplex Inc. says it lost $800,000 in the first quarter of the year as attendance at its theatres dropped on a slate of lacklustre films.

The Toronto-based movie exhibitor said the number of patrons at its theatres dropped 14.6 per cent in the period, which explains the part of the loss versus a gain of $3.8-million in the same period last year.

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Cineplex says first-quarter revenue was down 13.3 per cent to $221.4-million.

Analysts on average were anticipating earnings of three cents per share, with revenues of $225-million.

The company also announced it was increasing its quarterly dividend half a cent to 32 cents per share, payable June 30.

Cineplex Entertainment CEO Ellis Jacob says despite a box office decline, the company's diversified business model and related revenue streams provided "significant other revenue growth over the prior year."

He says other revenues increased 19 per cent primarily based on the success of the company's media business, which grew 26.6 per cent compared to the prior year.

Mr. Jacob has previously said that investors should expect the "'Avatar' factor" to have a lingering effect on results because its tickets sold strongly in the first few months of 2011 after a late December 2009 release.

The weaker performance was not only affected by the absence of a record-breaking blockbuster like Avatar, but also by a lack of any major breakout hit.

The top performer for the period was The King's Speech, a holdover from December that represented 7 per cent of the company's overall box-office for the period, compared to the stunning 25-per cent representation that Avatar had a year earlier.

In April, Cineplex announced it was paying $3.3-million to acquire New Way Sales Games Ltd., the company that supplies its arcade games.

Cineplex Galaxy converted from an income fund to a corporation in January and operates Cineplex Entertainment, which runs 131 theatres located from British Columbia to Quebec with about 1,362 screens that include digital projectors, Imax screens and its UltraAVX screen and sound systems.

The company has about 10,000 employees under its numerous brands which include Cineplex Odeon, Galaxy, Famous Players, Colossus, SilverCity and Scotiabank theatres.



 
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