Amidst a return to movie-theater openings in the fourth quarter, as around 40% of U.S. movie cinemas opened in the period, in-theater video advertising still suffered with year-long declines for National CineMedia, the in-theater advertising platform.
Revenue declined nearly 90% from $147.2 million to $15.7 million in Q4. The company posted a net loss of $35.2 million against net income of $19.1 million in the year-ago quarter period.
Currently, around 45% of U.S. cinemas are now open, according to Paul Dergarabedian, movie analyst at Comscore. This past weekend, New York City opened cinemas to 25% capacity, which helped to improve box-office results.
The most recent weekend of March 5-7 pulled $24.1 million in U.S. box-office revenue, according to IMDb’s Box Office Mojo. The same week a year ago in 2020 pulled in $101.5 million. This year’s March weekend earned the best results since Labor Day weekend (September 4-7) 2020 of $28.4 million.
From mid-March through September, virtually all U.S. theaters were closed. Then starting in September, U.S. theaters had limited openings.
As of December 31, 2020, 40.5% of the theaters within the NCM network were open.
While conditions are improving, National Cinemedia isn’t offering future financial projections as yet for 2021.
For the year overall, National CineMedia posted $90.4 million in revenue --down 80% for 2020 ($444.8 million) -- with much of its major business coming from the period from January through mid-March. It posted a new loss for 2020 of $65.4 million, versus net income of $36.1 million.
National CineMedia has made significant staffing cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, permanently reducing the number of staffers by over 20%. Another 20% of its staff was given reduced pay and work schedules by 50% to 60%.
Total attendance in theaters where its ad network platform runs was down 12.4 million in the fourth quarter versus 154 million a year ago. For the year, attendance was down to 138.2 million versus 651.4 million.