IMAX (IMAX) shareholders and movie fans got some good news Sunday. The large movie screen operator shared that it will be featuring "Star Trek: Into Darkness" on its screens two days earlier than the rest of North America. The move follows a similar one from 2011 with "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol". Hopefully, the results will be similar and reward shareholders in 2013.
"Star Trek: Into Darkness" is the sequel to the hit 2009 blockbuster. The first movie made $257.7 million domestically and $128.0 million in foreign markets, for a total of $385.7 million. Imax theaters also had the original movie on screens as well. Thirty minutes of the new movie was filmed with IMAX cameras, one of many new ways IMAX is earning additional revenue and trying to lure viewers into its theaters.
The sequel is likely to do better with strong buzz and higher anticipation from the critically praised 2009 film. An advertising spot during the Super Bowl is likely to help box office results as well. The Hollywood Stock Exchange, which allows users to predict box office on upcoming movies, is estimating "Into Darkness" will make $267 million in its first three weeks. This would be ahead of the original and could also provide a nice bump to IMAX revenue and their share price.
Back in 2011, IMAX released "Ghost Protocol" six days early in a move I praised before and after. I predicted that the move would lead to more early releases in the future. That movie was released early and made $11 million in its opening limited release on IMAX screens. This represented a per screen average of $36,667 for the opening weekend.
Here is a look at the company's 2013 lineup:
· March 8th: "Oz: The Great and Powerful"
· March 11th: Jack and the Giant Slayer 3D
· March 29th: "GI Joe Retaliation"
· April 5th: "Jurassic Park"
· April 15th: "Oblivion"
· May 15th: "Star Trek: Into Darkness"
· June 14th: "Man of Steel 3D"
· July 12th: "Pacific Rim 3D"
· August 2nd: "300: Rise of an Empire"
· October 18th: "Seventh Son 3D"
· November 22nd: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
· December 13th: "The Hobbit"
Part of the backlog was helped by a new twenty picture deal with Time Warner (TWX). I profiled that agreement and the benefits in a different article, but it should help 2013 payoff for shareholders. The company will add to this lineup, but the particular quarter to watch will be the second and fourth. The second now includes "Jurassic Park" on Imax for the first time, "Man of Steel", and "Star Trek". This could beat analysts' projections going forward. I also think Imax will add another June movie that will pump results. In the fourth quarter, Imax will have "Catching Fire" and "The Hobbit" on screens and will likely add another movie in each of the last three months.
This twenty picture agreement was announced recently and loaded 2013 and 2014 with new movies for IMAX. The company continues to add joint revenue theaters, which brings a larger percentage of box office and concession revenue back to IMAX. When the company has a strong relationship with Time Warner and other studios, it loads up their release schedule. I am also hoping that a strong relationship between these two companies will lead to more movies released early on IMAX screens.
Imax continues to have blockbuster movies bundled together with one every two or three weeks, allowing for huge months and quarters. The company has also decided to fill its empty spaces with re-released movies. In 2013, "Top Gun" and "Jurassic Park" will get the IMAX treatment, adding additional revenue to the top and bottom line that was not expected by analysts. In 2012, the company had success by doing this with "Titanic". Analysts and shareholders continue to underestimate the additional revenue generated by this filling in of the company's release schedule to milk additional revenue.
Analysts on Yahoo Finance expect the company to post earnings per share of $0.16 in the fourth quarter and $0.73 for the fiscal year. Last year, the company reported a profit of $0.40 per share. Next year, analysts are predicting the company will post a profit of $0.99. Look for analysts to raise their price targets with the new Time Warner deal and if more blockbusters are released early on Imax screens, which I believe is a strong possibility. Earnings will come in above a $1 in fiscal 2013.
IMAX will report fourth quarter and full year results on February 21st. I will be anxious to hear guidance for the next fiscal year, with a strong lineup once again ahead for the company. I remain bullish as the company expands its theater count, international presence, and joint venture revenue sharing.