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HomeEntrepreneursIMAX earnings Q3 2023: Oppenheimer drives profit

IMAX earnings Q3 2023: Oppenheimer drives profit

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ movie billboard is seen in Katowice, Poland on July 20, 2023.

Beata Zawrzel | Nurphoto | Getty Images

IMAX on Wednesday posted third quarter earnings showing its second highest-grossing quarter ever at the global box office, led by Universal’s “Oppenheimer.”

Shares of the company slipped slightly.

Here’s how the company performed in the third quarter compared with Wall Street estimates:

  • Earnings per share: 22 cents vs. 23 cents per share expected, according to LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $103.9 million vs. $100.7 million expected, according to LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv

The movie company reported a net income of $12 million, or 22 cents a share, versus a loss of $9 million, or 16 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue was $103.9 million, up 51% year-over-year.

Even as entertainment pushes forward into a post-pandemic arena, with streaming dominant, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond said the company’s strength shows that the theatrical experience is not dead.

“We’ve really delivered this quarter across every imaginable index, whether it’s financial, or whether it’s signing, or whether its our position in the ecosystem, or even in small ways many of you don’t see which is in our leverage in the day-to-day business,” Gelfond said on an earnings call Wednesday. “I’ve certainly rarely been as confident as I am today.”

Key contributors to the third quarter’s growth included Hollywood titles like “Oppenheimer,” which raked in more than $180 million in revenue, along with “Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” Local language films also contributed to the company’s summer success, including Chinese title “Creation of the Gods: Kingdom of Storms” and India’s “Jawan.”

The quarter was behind only the fourth quarter of 2019, when “Joker” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opened, in terms of grosses, IMAX said.

In the third quarter, IMAX also generated 120 new signings for new and upgraded IMAX systems across the world.

“It is truly the best of times at IMAX. The company delivered a record performance in the third quarter,” Gelfond said during the call. “We’ve seen many good quarters, but few have exceeded our expectations like this.”

Chief Financial Officer Natasha Fernandes added that the company’s operating cash flow is more than three times what it was last year.

Looking to next year, IMAX expects “some movement” due to impacts felt from the Hollywood actors’ strike, Gelfond said. But the company is optimistic that upcoming titles like IMAX-shot “Dune: Part 2” – now slated for a March 2024 release – combined with this quarter’s growth will anchor the first quarter box office.

IMAX sees the shifting release dates as opening for opportunities to show other films, Gelfond said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Wednesday morning. But if the strike continues into next year, he said he sees it becoming a “more serious issue” – though he expects the dust to settle soon.

“It all depends on when it gets resolved. In the first half of the year, there’s a lot of content that’s pretty much locked. It’s the second half things that need to be reshot and obviously, you need the actors for promotion, so I think if it settles in the next month or so, it’ll be OK,” he said.

The company is also expecting great success from a new era of concert films, spearheaded by “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” which has racked up big grosses, and “Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce,” which is due in December.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, also owns Universal Pictures, which released “Oppenheimer.”

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