Though there weren’t many major Hollywood blockbusters in the first quarter of 2022, Imax reported $60 million in revenue in its earnings report on Thursday as it prepares for a summer filled with blockbusters and the launch of its new events cinema venture.
Imax reported a global quarterly box office total of $173.2 million, up 57% over Q1 2021 thanks in large part to the March release of “The Batman” and post-holiday holdover screenings of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Imax also had screenings of seven local language films in countries like China, India and France. Adjusted EBITDA stood at $14.8 million, up from $2.8 million in Q1 2021 during which theaters worldwide closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the upward trend, Imax still reported a quarterly loss attributable to shareholders of $13.6 million, or 23 cents per share. That’s a small improvement from the $14.8 million loss and 25 cents loss per share reported in Q1 2021. The loss included a non-cash provision of $6.9 million, or $0.12 per share, for reserves taken after the global film industry pulled production and distribution support from Russia following Pres. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Shares of Imax fell more than 4% in after-hours trading as CEO Rich Gelfond appeared to take aim at Netflix’s disappointing results last week.
“Recent consumer trends reaffirm the irreplaceable value of a theatrical release, with ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘The Batman’ driving strong performances on digital platforms following impressive runs at the box office,” Gelfond wrote in a statement. “Intensifying competitive pressures and renewed questions around the economic model for streaming business could provide an additional tailwind for theatrical releases, given their proven ability to create value throughout the chain.”
“Even in a quarter expectedly light on new global releases, IMAX drove strong double-digit growth across Global Box Office, Revenue, Gross Margin, and Adjusted EBITDA — demonstrating the success of our content strategy, the inherent advantages in our asset-lite model, and our ability to quickly capitalize as more and more tentpole content arrives in market,” Gelfond continued.
At CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week, Imax EVP Megan Colligan proudly touted the company’s new “Imax Live” venture, which is designed to get the premium company a foothold in the growing events market for movie theaters.
The project, which Colligan says began development prior to the pandemic, involved creating a new infrastructure allowing for low-latency broadcasting of live events to a worldwide audience using Imax cameras, allowing for not just global airings of concerts like Ye’s “Donda” but also post-screening Q&As with film directors, as Imax used its new live technology for a special Q&A with filmmaker Peter Jackson as part of a one-night-only screening of his Disney+ doc “The Beatles: Get Back”
Among the events planned in the coming months for “Imax Live” are concert performance by Roger Water, Swedish House Mafia and Rene Fleming, as well as a big-screen broadcast of the 43rd season of CBS’ “Survivor.”
Of course, the biggest blockbusters will continue to be the core of Imax’s business, and the company says it is expecting to see pre-pandemic levels of business from films like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion.”