While Hollywood wonders if a big part of the financing for Jeff Robinov’s new shingle will come from Huayi Brothers Media, others with less luster are tapping China for funding. Producers Robert Simonds and Gigi Pritzker announced in The New York Times they have teamed with backers including TPG Growth and Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital to form a venture they call “a next generation film studio” that will finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 star-driven theatrical films per year for the global market with budgets at around $40M. They expect the venture to spend over $1B over the next five years. The strategy: Hollywood’s devotion to tent poles has pushed them away from star vehicles, and the venture wants to bring those back. Of course, that happened because new stars are few and far between, and even the dependable ones no longer deliver strong opening weekends like they once did. Simonds, who had an early strong run with Adam Sandler comedies but whose last hit was 2006′s The Pink Panther, will be chairman and CEO of the venture with former Viacom Entertainment Group exec Thomas McGrath as COO. OddLot Entertainment CEO Pritzker will also sit on the board. She is coming off the disastrous Ender’s Game, but has also been involved in tasteful fare like The Way Way Back, Drive and the upcoming Jon Stewart-directed Rosewater. They say they have made direct distribution deals with North American …
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the big Dish-Disney deal and what it might mean for other media companies and even a possible sports-free online pay-TV service. They also discuss Disney’s continuing headaches with its Interactive unit, whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new rules for local broadcast alliances go far enough and look at the speculation about Carmike, the big exhibitor whose strong quarter fueled speculation that it will be a fat takeover target.
The exhibition chain’s stock is up about 7.7% so far today, and hit a 52-week high of $32.60, as its stronger-than-expected Q4 earnings delighted investors — and revived speculation that it might soon be ripe for a takeover. Some analysts say that the stars will align if the leading theater ad sales company, National CineMedia, buys its rival Screenvision. That “could happen this year,” B. Riley’s Eric Wold says. And since Carmike owns about 19% of Screenvision, that “would also put Carmike in play to be acquired by one of the top three domestic exhibitors.” Benchmark Co’s Mike Hickey says that a deal would “create a +$300 million asset within Carmike” potentially enticing bidders to offer about $40 per share. Even without a deal, investors like Carmike’s report that its attendance per screen increased about 3% in Q4. That’s a contrast with AMC, Regal, and Cinemark which were down — one analyst attributed that to the holiday season launches of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s XBox One gaming consoles. What accounted for the difference? Wold says that Carmike benefited from its small market theaters which operate “within somewhat competitor-free film zones.” Maxim Group’s John Tinker pointed to “the success of family-oriented films such as Frozen and The Hunger Games, which align well [with Carmike's] concentration in suburban markets.” And Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter noted that the chain bought 52 screens from Cinemark and 147 from Muvico Theaters that “added three IMAX screens, …
The chain said in July that it would go on a shopping spree when it raised $88.1M through a secondary stock offering. “We are not seeing fixer-uppers or turnaround projects,” CEO David Passman told analysts at the time. Today’s deal seems to fit his criteria. It will provide Carmike with an additional 147 screens in three states — Florida, California, and Illinois — giving it a total of 2,681 at 257 theaters in 37 states. They shouldn’t need much work: “Muvico is a cinema technology leader and industry pioneer, with recent capital expenditures for digital projection system upgrades, IMAX and MuviXL large format screens, installations of cutting-edge sound, reserved seating and ticket kiosks, as well as additional facility enhancements,” Passman says. “We expect limited incremental maintenance capital expenditures on these acquired facilities over the near-term.” He adds that the deal will add Bogart’s Bar & Grill restaurants to Carmike theaters in Thousand Oaks, Calif. and Rosemont, Ill. which advances “our entry into the full-service food and beverage arena.” Seven of the nine theaters are in Florida and most have beer and wine service, entertainment centers, party rooms and conference facilities. The deal should boost revenues by $68M and cash flow by $5.4M and provides “a number of operational and cost synergy opportunities,” Passman says. Carmike will have a chance to discuss the deal with analysts tomorrow when it releases its Q3 earnings.
(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif. – 8 October 2013) The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), announced today the election of new officers to two-year terms by the Executive Board of Directors at the association’s annual meeting, October 2-3, 2013 at the Park Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C. Prior to the meeting, on October 1, NATO members took part in Hill Day visits to senators and representatives on Capitol Hill, even as the federal government shut down over political gridlock.
The Georgia-based exhibition chain says it’s hunting to buy theaters. But its shares jumped 6.7% today after a Bloomberg story said that it could be the industry’s next big target. Carmike “may offer the best value” for rivals such as Regal and Cinemark that also want to expand. Carmike could be attractive because it has 2,500 screens — and its stock price is relatively cheap. The company trades for about 3.8 times earnings while Regal goes for 23.7 times and Cinemark is 20.3 times. Others have also noted Carmike’s appeal as a takeover target. B. Riley analyst Eric Wold has long made the case that it could give one of the larger chains a lot more clout in negotiating with Hollywood studios. But Carmike CEO David Passman told analysts last month that his company is “actively evaluating potential acquisitions and new builds, as we move toward our target of 300 theaters and 3,000 screens.” Buyers are salivating over many smaller exhibition operations that either can’t afford to pay for digital projection technology as studios phase out celluloid films, or that had to heavily borrow to make the transition. So is Carmike a buyer or seller? With so many big companies looking for deals — including overseas companies following last year’s acquisition of AMC Entertainment by China’s Wanda Group — “one cannot ignore the possibility that Carmike could potentially become a target itself,” says Barrington Research’s James Goss.
This is curious: Carmike was a founding partner at Fandango, and last year the companies announced that they had extended their “multi-year strategic agreement.” But it appears that deal wasn’t exclusive — and Carmike wants another option. Today the chain says that it will also use Fandango’s chief rival, MovieTickets.com, to sell tickets online. Carmike is “delighted to forge this new alliance with MovieTickets.com,” the exhibition chain’s CEO David Passman says. “Carmike patrons appreciate flexibility in their advance ticket purchasing and we are pleased to be adding MovieTickets.com.” It’s highly unusual for a chain to offer two online sales options. The Boca Raton-based digital operation already serves the Rave theaters that Carmike recently bought. The new agreement will soon add Carmike’s 2,200 other screens. This is “the single largest domestic addition to our screen count since the company was founded in 2000,” MovieTickets.com CEO Joel Cohen says. “Carmike is highly influential in our industry, we are pleased they chose to join our program and collectively work with us to improve the movie going experience.”
All exhibition chains struggled with the weak box office in early 2012. But Carmike suffered from a triple whammy in Q1 as it recorded $12.3M in interest expenses — due in part to the additional leverage to finance its acquisition of Rave’s theaters at the end of 2012 — as well as about $3.1M in charges to cancel leases for underperforming theaters. The company ended up with a net loss of $5.8M, down from a $3.2M profit in the period a year ago, on revenues of $130.1M, +0.1%. The top line was right about where analysts expected. But the net loss of 33 cents a share contrasts with forecasts for a seven cent profit. Revenues from admissions fell 1.4% to $81.5M as the rise in the price of the average ticket — to $7.02 from $6.68 — was offset by the 4.6% drop in attendance to 11.6M. Even so, concessions revenues rose 2.7% to $48.6M, as the average concessions sales per patron rose 27 cents to $4.18. The company says that the increase reflects the success of its experiments and efforts to promote high-margin goodies. “Last year’s first quarter box office benefited from a strong and well-balanced film slate, creating a challenging year-over-year comparison for the industry,” CEO Dave Passman says. But Q2 “is off to a strong start,” he adds, and “we expect the positive momentum to continue throughout the summer as the upcoming release calendar features a …
Listen to (and share) Episode 27 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman as our Executive Editor and host David Bloom look at Crood attempts to revive the sagging shares of DreamWorks Animation; brightening numbers for two of the biggest exhibition chains; and what it might mean for Los Angeles and the entertainment business as a whole now that live-entertainment and sports giant AEG is off the market, and its long-time CEO has departed.
This is becoming a familiar theme in exhibition, although Carmike‘s Q4 numbers are complicated by its acquisition in November of 251 screens from Rave Reviews Cinemas as well as an $86.5M year-end tax benefit. With those factored in, Carmike had net income of $91.6M in Q4, up from $1.7M at the end of 2011, on revenues of $146.6M, +23.2%. The revenue number beats forecasts for $144.25M. The company reported EPS of $5.19; without one-time items, that comes to 43 cents vs an adjusted number for last year of 24 cents. Analysts expected the company to generate unadjusted EPS of 24 cents in Q4 vs last year’s 13 cents. Accounting complications aside, the basic numbers look solid: Admissions revenues rose 22.6% to $93.7M as the chain sold 13.2M tickets (+16.1%) at an average price of $7.10 a ticket (+5%). Concessions revenues were up 24.3% to $52.9M, with average sales per patron of $3.99. It was the 12th straight quarter of concessions growth. “The Company’s growing footprint expanded to approximately 2,500 screens as we took another step along our way to achieving Carmike’s next corporate milestone of 3,000 screens and 300 locations across ‘Hometown America’,” CEO David Passman says. “We will continue to actively target acquisitions and attractive build-to-suit opportunities.”
The exhibition company had a lot on its plate in Q3 as it grappled with the industry-wide decline in box office sales and its agreement in late September to buy 13 theaters from Rave Reviews Cinemas. Net income came in at $233,000, down from $3.1M in the period last year, on revenues of $127.5M, -4.4%. That’s still short of the $130.5M that analysts expected. And even after factoring out extraordinary expenses — including a $1.8M impairment charge — adjusted earnings per share only came in at 13 cents, below forecasts for 16 cents. Sales from admissions fell 6.6% to $80.4M, even though the average ticket price was up three cents to $6.52. Concessions declined 3.9% to $47.1M despite a 6.7% increase in the average purchases per patron to $3.81. “We think it’s important to note that the 2012 domestic third quarter box office competed with the all-time strongest like quarter on record in 2011, somewhat mitigating the year over year decline,” CEO David Passman says. He adds that the “year to date numbers bode well for both Carmike and the industry at large.”
Los Angeles, CA; September 12, 2012 – Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. (NASDAQ: CIDM) announced today that Carmike Cinemas, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKEC) has licensed Cinedigm’s Exhibitor Management System (EMS) to run back office operations including release planning, booking, “holdovers,” contract terms management, box office auditing, film rental accruals, payments, remittance processing and reporting. Carmike is the fourth largest motion picture exhibitor in the United States, operating 233 theatres with 2,245 screens in 35 states. Cinedigm’s EMS will streamline content booking and payments circuit-wide and will integrate directly with Carmike’s theatre-based point of sale system, as well as corporate and accounting systems.
At least three analysts have already reduced their earnings forecasts for the top publicly traded exhibition chains after Q2 ended with industrywide box office sales -2.9% compared with the same period last year. “We had originally built in flat- to modestly-higher trends in overall second quarter Box Office results,” Barrington Research’s James Goss says this morning. As a result, he cut his earnings-per-share projection for Regal by 40% to 15 cents, with Cinemark -30% to 33 cents, and Carmike -27% to 33 cents. He says the current quarter might also fall short of last year, which included Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Paramount’s Captain America: The First Avenger, and Sony’s The Smurfs. But he’s impressed with the opening performance for Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man and Universal’s Ted, and seems optimistic about Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises, Sony’s Total Recall, and Universal’s Bourne Legacy. That could result in “an upside surprise” in Q3 leading into