Imax CEO expects ’embarrassment of riches’ from slate of 2021 movie releases

Despite the quantity of productions delayed this 12 months by the coronavirus pandemic, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond on CNBC Monday stated the brand new 12 months might show to be profitable for his firm.

While studios paused tapings, movie releases had been additionally delayed as movie theaters closed throughout the nation in response to the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this 12 months. Gelfond expects to recoup at the very least some of the income that was missed out on in 2020, ought to optimistic forecasts for holding the worldwide well being disaster play out as hoped, giving Imax a lift as movie lovers search out immersive leisure that they’ll't get at dwelling.

"In a way, 2021, if things do open early in the year, it's an embarrassment of riches," he stated in a "Closing Bell" interview. "There's an awful lot of content, and that's true on a global basis."

Some of the extremely anticipated movies that Gelfond is banking on to be launched subsequent 12 months embody "Top Gun: Maverick," "Black Widow" and "Fast & Furious 9." Each of their deliberate 2020 releases had been pushed again to 2021. Imax additionally has publicity to international field places of work with places in 82 nations, the place different movies are additionally on backlog, Gelfond stated. North America makes up one-third of Imax's world enterprise.

In 2019, Imax recorded its best-grossing 12 months with $1.035 billion in box-office gross sales. It was the second straight 12 months the corporate introduced in additional than $1 billion in whole receipts. That streak was damaged in 2020.

Imax income reached $395.7 million in 2019 after three straight years of about $370 million or extra. Revenue has suffered enormously prior to now three quarters, down 70% from the identical nine-month interval final 12 months.

"Fortunately, there's a big backlog of movies that already exist," Gelfond stated.

As vaccine campaigns across the globe get underway and well being consultants plot potential reopening timelines, firms are mapping out after they count on to see enterprise rebound to pre-pandemic ranges.

Gelfond is projecting enterprise at Imax theaters to start to enhance by summer time with the launch of "Top Gun: Maverick," starring Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly.

"I think by then you'll start to approach 100% levels and then certainly by the fourth quarter it'll be completely open," he stated. Given the optimism that the U.S. economic system will bounce again rapidly after the nation reaches supreme immunity ranges, "I think it's highly likely that by the second quarter things are going to start to open up here."

Shares of Imax rose 4% on Monday, closing at $17.70. The inventory is down 13% 12 months thus far.

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