Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob sees enough Hollywood movies reaching theaters this year and next to at long last ease the exhibition industry’s film supply issues following the end of the dual writers and actors strikes.
“We are starting to see product coming back,” Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday after Cineplex unveiled its fourth quarter financial results. He pointed to Disney on Wednesday announcing Moana 2 set for a theatrical release on November 27, after earlier being developed as a TV series, and Dev Patel’s action thriller Monkey Man, also scheduled to hit theaters April 5 via Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw and its deal at Universal after being previously set up at Netflix, as good news for the exhibition sector.
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“Those are positive that to me point in the right direction,” Jacob insisted. The Canadian exhibitor, like its U.S. peers, has had to deal with too few Hollywood movies in its theaters after the disruption of the dual strikes.
But Jacob sees Hollywood’s production schedule returning to normal through the course of 2024 and into next year. Looking to the last quarter of the year heading into Christmas, Jacob points to titles like Joker: Folie à Deux, Gladiator 2, Moana 2, Lord of the Rings, another Karate Kid movie, Mufasa: The Lion King and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as fueling the current box office recovery.
That’s a sea change from 2023 when Cineplex was relying on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Aquaman 2 and “the great surprise of” Taylor Swift’s concert tour movie to drive a box office recovery. And in March, Jacob points to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part 2 as a big month and test for exhibitors.
Cineplex is also looking to international film titles to compensate for remaining short term supply challenges in product from Hollywood. During the fourth quarter, the exhibitor saw overall revenues rise 1.7 percent to $315 million, as theater attendance jumped 4.2 percent to 9.59 million patrons.
The exhibitor’s top performing Hollywood titles during the latest quarter included Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and Five Nights at Freddy’s. At the same time, box office revenues for the fourth quarter at $123.8 million were only 68 percent of the $181 million in box office results posted in the same period of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
That led to Cineplex posting a net loss of $9 million during the latest financial quarter, compared to a year-earlier loss of $10.1 million. In other metrics, box office revenue per patron was $12.90, down 1.2 percent from $13.06 a year earlier, while concession revenue per patron rose 3.9 percent to $9.28, against $8.93 in the same period of 2022.
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