Canadian stars of 'Shang-Chi,' 'Free Guy' draw moviegoers as Cineplex reports loss

·2 min read

TORONTO — Hollywood hits starring homegrown actors Simu Liu and Ryan Reynolds had Canadian moviegoers rushing back to cinemas in the final weeks of summer, giving Cineplex Inc. a much-needed boost in ticket sales.

The country's largest film exhibitor says Liu's Marvel epic "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and Reynolds' avatar comedy "Free Guy" were two of its biggest draws in the latest quarter.

Both films helped overall attendance spike by 430 per cent to 8.3 million versus 1.6 million a year ago during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other factors contributed to the return of audiences, including an easing of pandemic measures in some provinces. The company says it had reopened its entire circuit of theatres as of July 17.

However, the turnout couldn't keep Cineplex from reporting a loss of $33.6 million in the three months that ended on Sept. 30.

The company says that amounted to a loss of 53 cents per diluted share compared with a loss of $121.2 million or $1.91 per diluted share a year ago.

Cineplex has spent much of the year focused on getting its theatres back into operation while hoping the confidence of patrons and a solid selection of films will attract sizable crowds.

However, the summer proved to be a mixed bag, with several ambitious titles, including "The Suicide Squad" and G.I. Joe origins story "Snake Eyes," performing well below expectations.

Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob says after the third quarter wrapped, several other blockbusters delivered big numbers, including James Bond adventure "No Time to Die" and sci-fi epic "Dune," from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve.

Cineplex said overall revenue totalled $250.4 million, up from $61.0 million in the same quarter last year.

Box-office revenues per person jumped 22 per cent to $11.4 million helped by a growing number of moviegoers choosing to upgrade their tickets to premium screens, including Imax, UltraAVX large-format screens and VIP cinemas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CGX)

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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