The weekend box office for the top 12 films was up 61%. It was the second best April weekend ever, trailing only last weekend. It was also the best ever Easter weekend.
The top three films all performed well. Hannah Montana The Movie met high expectations with $34 million and provided a much needed boost for Disney (NYSE:DIS), which had been in a box office slump. Fast and Furious held well at #2 given the genre and massive opening weekend. Monsters vs. Aliens firmed up, falling just 30%, taking full advantage of school vacations on Good Friday. Dreamworks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) is now looking at a solid North American performance for the film relative to expectations.
For the theater stocks, the news is all good. Look for more estimate increases and higher stock prices for Regal Entertainment (NYSE:RGC), Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK), Carmike Cinemas (NASDAQ:CKEC), and cinema advertising leader National Cinemedia (NASDAQ:NCMI).
The next two weekends should offer solidly positive comparisons before the summer movie season gets underway the first weekend in May with X-Men Origins: Wolverine which will do well but faces a tough comp from the $98 million opening weekend of Iron Man a year ago.