Cinemark Courts Gamers, Wrestling Fans; Sees Sales Surge, Market Share Rise Amid Box Office Recovery

Movies

Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie chain, grew revenue and slashed losses last quarter, the first one since Covid with 100% of its theaters open. Talking with Wall Streeters on his last conference call as CEO, Mark Zoradi described a push into gaming (hiring a VP, setting up a dedicated division) as well as wrestling and live sports and events as it leans into the ongoing box office recovery.

The chain held a recent sold out 25-city test with Critical Role and Dungeons and Dragons to “outstanding results” and is testing with League of Legends, Zoradi said. It’s looking at game competitions, game awards, and private gaming parties. Asked about football, Zoradi said the NFL hasn’t “been highly successful” yet since home-city games aren’t available for showings — only out of market. But college sports may be an opportunity “to show big local teams and big local games.”

Cinemark “put its foot in the water” with wrestling for high-profile events where it can charge a premium. It’s been successful so far given an active fan base. It will see more movie premiere events and special live Q&As with talent.

It’s also focused on premium amenities like luxury loungers, now in 65% of its circuit, and new Barco laser projectors from Cinionic. In a key stat, the chain said its overall market share in North America has risen to 15% from about 12.75%.

Operating hours are not completely normalized across the U.S., and Cinemark execs noted that the exhibition recovery in Latin America, where the chain operates in 15 countries, is about 60 to 120 days behind the States with some restrictions on hours and operations still in place.

Cimemark reported total sales of $434.8 million in Q3 2021, up sharply from $35.5 million last year. Of that, admissions were $225.5 million, and concession $164.2 million. It sold 30.7 million tickets for an average ticket price of $7.35 and saw concession per patron of $5.35.

Cinemark was still in the red, however, though losses were halved to to $77.8 million from $147 million.

The Plano, Texas-based chain operates Century, Tinseltown and Rave theaters — 524 in all, with 5,897 screens in 42 states domestically and 15 countries throughout South and Central America. Theaters in Latin America were also all reopened by the end of the quarter.

“As an industry, and as a company, we continue to make significant progress recovering from the effects of the pandemic,” said Zoradi, who is about to hand the reins to CFO/COO Sean Gamble but will remain on the board of directors.

“We are highly encouraged by sustained positive trends in escalating consumer demand for theatrical moviegoing and growing momentum at the box office,” he said. He expects it to continue given the robust release calendar in the current fourth quarter and into next year, he said. October was the best month for theatrical since Covid hit.

The company opened six new U.S. theaters with 67 screens this year and is planning two more and has one more U.S. and one in Latin America coming online.

Cinemark share are up 2.6% today.

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