TORONTO — Canadians are returning to cinemas after more than two years of COVID-19 measures, handing a revenue bump to the country’s largest cinema chain.
Cineplex Inc. said Friday that theatregoers’ spending on tickets and snacks boosted its first-quarter revenue to $228.7 million, up from $41.4 million in the first three months of 2021.
Box office revenue per patron was a record $12 for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $9.20 a year ago, while concession revenue per patron was an all-time quarterly record at $8.82, up from $6.12 in the same quarter last year.
“There’s a real desire from our guests to have the whole experience, and what I mean by that is getting that popcorn and drink, and going out with their families, and we see that continuing to get better,” Cineplex’s chief executive Ellis Jacob said.
Jacob’s observations come as theatres are plotting a recovery from health measures instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced cinemas closed for lengthy periods, mandated guests be vaccinated and in some regions, included a ban on eating snacks like popcorn in auditoriums.
For the first time in more than two years, Cineplex’s entire roster of venues is open without restrictions, but the industry is still grappling with how pandemic habits will factor into the future.
The health crisis pushed many studios to release films on streaming platforms, skipping or minimizing their theatrical runs, and even inspired U.S. giant AMC Theatres to start charging more for opening week screenings of “The Batman.”
Jacob said he hasn’t looked too closely at AMC’s model, but his company is facing similar pressures.
Cineplex reported a first-quarter loss of $42.2 million, which amounted to 67 cents per share, compared with a loss of $89.7 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, a year earlier.
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