By Brendan Swift
Village Roadshow's exhibition division has posted a record profit after several 3D blockbusters including Avatar and Alice In Wonderland pushed the total industry box office past $1 billion last year.
The company’s exhibition division posted a 41 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profit to $30.8 million despite ongoing lacklustre performance from its US Gold Class business, which is being hurt by the downturn in the economy.
The positive result, along with a similarly strong performance from the company’s Gold Coast theme parks division, helped Village Roadshow post a 17.7 per cent rise in normalised operating profit (excluding material items) to $65.9 million in fiscal 2010.
Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke said the company’s divisions have performed strongly in challenging times. “Economic circumstances are yet to fully improve but we consider that we have put ourselves in the right position to be able to capitalise on opportunities as they arise,” he said in a statement.
The company has 506 cinema screens in Australia across 50 sites and plans to convert an additional 70 screens to digital this financial year. It has already converted 37 screens to digital since September 2009.
The company also owns 73 screens in Singapore and 45 in the US, but has no plans to open any more screens while it is restructuring its US-based Gold Class cinemas. In the first half of the year, the company sold its Greece and Czech Republic exhibition chains for $83.8 million.
While the company's distribution division posted a 4.6 per cent decline in sales revenue to $409.3 million as DVD sales were hurt by the retail downturn, it still posted a flat $36.6 million pre-tax profit after cutting costs.
The company remains a substantial film investor and, among it future lineup of films, are such titles as Legends Of The Guardians, Life As We Know It and Happy Feet 2 3D.
The full annual results and presentation can be found here.