Canada’s largest movie chain had plenty of reasons to celebrate on Thursday.
On top of Cineplex Inc. CGX-T reporting that the summer rush to see Barbie and Oppenheimer delivered record revenues, the company was pleased to see the end of a lengthy Hollywood strike that halted television and film production for months and threatened the future movie lineup.
“Timing couldn’t have been better,” Cineplex’s chief executive Ellis Jacob said in an interview Thursday, referring to the mood at the company.
“It’s like we had resolved the strike ourselves.”
Thousands of striking stars represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists hit picket lines in July, joining talent backed by the Writers Guild of America, who had already walked off the job.
While the writers ended their nearly five-month strike in September, the actors’ job action stretched on, keeping stars away from the Toronto International Film Festival and delaying the debut of some films.
Dune: Part Two, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire and Zendaya’s tennis film Challengers were among the flicks pushed back to 2024.
The end of the strike “basically takes away a negative that people were viewing in the business going forward,” Mr. Jacob said.
“Yes, there’ll be a delay or two, but the bottom line is these movies aren’t disappearing, they’re just going to be shifting slightly.”
While Mr. Jacob is unsure exactly which films may arrive in theatres later than planned, on an earnings call earlier in the day he pointed to a Deadline article that showed several films, including sequels to Deadpool, Beetlejuice and Venom, were pushing to restart as soon as possible.
In the coming months, Cineplex is looking forward to screening Ferrari, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Napoleon, Wonka and Disney’s Wish, along with concert movie Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.
Cineplex Inc.’s enthusiasm about the slate of future films came as it reported net income of $29.7-million in its latest quarter as Barbie, Oppenheimer and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning helped its revenue hit an all-time quarterly record.
The company’s profit amounted to 40 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from $30.9-million or 43 cents per diluted share a year earlier.
The results for the quarter last year included a $49.8-million one-time gain related to the reorganization of its Scene loyalty program.
Revenue for the quarter this year totalled $463.6-million, up from $339.8-million in the same quarter last year. The $463.6-million marked an all-time quarterly record for the company.
The increase came as theatre attendance rose to nearly 15.7 million for the quarter compared with nearly 11.1 million a year earlier.
Box office revenue per patron rose to $12 compared with $11.25 a year ago, while concession revenue per patron was $8.44, up from $8.35 in the same quarter last year.
Much of the results were attributable to smash hit Barbie, the Margot Robbie- and Ryan Gosling-starring film which generated the highest-ever July attendance at Cineplex theatres.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, which Cineplex recently screened, was also considered “record-breaking” in the concert movie category.
It generated more than $165-million in box office revenue at the domestic level, Mr. Jacob said, and brought droves of fans who traded friendship bracelets and wore elaborate outfits to theatres.
“I wasn’t a big friendship bracelet maker, but I was part of the whole fun process that was going on and it was really great to see,” Mr. Jacob said.
Asked whether Beyoncé’s concert film will be as popular, he said he suspects it will be big in larger markets.
“I don’t know how it will perform in the smaller towns, whereas Taylor did really well pretty much everywhere.”