Cinema giant Cinemark said Friday it sees the light at the end of the tunnel even as it swung to a quarterly loss as the coronavirus pandemic crushed movie attendance.
In the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Cinemark posted a loss of $239 million, or $2.03 a diluted share compared with a year-ago profit of $23 million, or 22 cents a share. Revenue fell to $98 million from $789 million a year ago. Wall Street expected a loss of $1.46 a share on revenue of $80 million.
Chief executive Mark Zorandi noted that the results were severely hampered by the pandemic, which shuttered its theaters or reduced its seating capacity since the last year.
“It is almost unfathomable that one year ago, we were reporting Cinemark’s fifth consecutive year of record results with the North American industry touting the second-highest-grossing box office of all-time,” he said.
As of the fourth quarter, the Plano, Texas-based company had 217 domestic and 129 international movie theaters open, all operating at limited hours and capacity, and showing mostly older movies.
Still, the nation’s third-largest movie theater chain with 533 theaters — 331 of which are in the US —said it sees hope on the horizon as moviegoing rises in regions where the virus has been contained.
“We remain highly confident in the rebound of our industry once the virus is more contained, as evidenced by recent box office results in China, Japan and Australia,” the CEO said. “Cinemark was well-positioned heading into the crisis, and we have adapted and evolved the way we operate to navigate the current environment, and to ensure we remain successful and further solidify our leadership position as theatrical moviegoing resurges.”
In the US, the early success of the vaccine, which has lowered COVID cases, has also been a cause for celebration among movie theater owners. New York City, one of the most lucrative box office markets, will reopen movie theaters at limited capacity in March, after a yearlong hiatus.
Zorandi said his company is well-positioned to weather the storm with $655 million in cash.
“While COVID-19 has caused significant distress to our industry and our company, Cinemark has maintained discipline and consistency, while demonstrating relentless perseverance and agility,” he added.