May 10, 2012 / 10:49 AM / in 5 years

Hunger Games feeds Cineplex first-quarter earnings

(Reuters) - Canada’s Cineplex Inc (CGX.TO) reported a first-quarter profit, reversing a year-earlier loss, as blockbuster movies such as “The Hunger Games” helped to attract patrons, allowing the company to raise its annual dividend by 5 percent.

Overall attendance rose 12.1 percent in the quarter, while same-theater attendance rose 12.6 percent.

“Film product during the current-year period was stronger than the prior year period,” the company said. Attendance was also helped by the school holidays in the first week of January.

The company’s net income of C$15.1 million compared with a loss of C$848,000 in the year-earlier quarter.

Total revenue rose 12 percent to C$248.2 million, while revenue per patron increased 2.5 percent to C$8.72.

Media revenue, which includes advertising in the company’s cinema magazines, fell 29 percent to C$12.7 million, reflecting cuts in spending by the government and telecoms sectors.

Box-office revenue rose 15 percent to C$149.4 million in the quarter, mainly helped by the success of The Hunger Games, a post-apocalyptic action movie that scored the third-highest grossing domestic opening in film history.

Cineplex, which competes mainly with Empire Co Ltd’s (EMPa.TO) Empire Theatres, raised its annual dividend to C$1.35 per share from C$1.29, the second increase since it converted to a corporation in January 2011.

Reporting by Aftab Ahmed in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal and Ted Kerr

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