This week, IMAX reported strong results for its second quarter, posting revenues of $51M compared with $8.9M from Q2 of 2020. In his comments in a quarterly earnings call with investors, CEO Rich Gelfond predicted a robust recovery for his company and for exhibition overall. IMAX is well positioned for growth as the pandemic lifts, with its focus on presenting the most current blockbusters from major studios in their large-screen format. Studios are expected to maintain a robust theatrical release calendar for this type of film, and IMAX is less reliant on revenues earned from long-runs for any one film, since most IMAX locations have only one or several screens and can therefore shift to the next major title as soon as it is released. Blockbuster titles such as Godzilla vs. Kong, F9: the Fast Saga and Black Widow during their opening 1-2 weeks are a sweet spot for exhibitors.
Gelfond commented on the results from Disney’s recent “experiment” in releasing Black Widow and Jungle Cruise simultaneously to theatres and on Disney+, saying that he expects Disney and other major studios will all move back to a release plan that includes an exclusive theatrical release window. He spelled out how studios maximize their earnings. “They used to sell the same property five times, and now they’re selling it once. They might be bringing some revenue forward, but there’s no proof points that it’s a better model…Black Widow was a great movie, so when I think about it, there was no doubt a lot of money was left on the table.”