IMAX’s 2018 had a heroic last-minute twist, according to the company’s most recent financial accounting.
The Hollywood Reporter notes the Toronto-based exhibitor beat Wall Street’s estimates for fourth-quarter earnings last year, thanks largely to the global success of Aquaman and Venom. The company earned a reported $1.7 million on revenue of $108.9 million. That’s higher than analysts expected, though it represents a drop from 2017, when Star Wars: The Last Jedi gave the company a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $5 million.
IMAX’s final few months of 2018 were also impacted by an $8.38 million charge “for exit costs and restructuring charges,” according to the Reporter. The company has returned to its core business of movie exhibition, following ambitious plans to expand into the virtual-reality field. IMAX announced it was shutting down its VR arcades last year, not long after pulling out of a VR partnership with Google.
Though several high-profile studio films were released in IMAX between October and December last year—including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—it was an underwater DC hero, and an above-the-law Marvel villain, who proved the be the company’s biggest allies. Warner Bros’ Aquaman made more than a billion dollars globally, while Sony’s Venom was a bigger-than-expected smash, earning $855 million worldwide.
Both films were especially popular in China, which in recent years has become a highly crucial, if wildly unpredictable, market for Hollywood-produced films. IMAX has increased its efforts in the region, where it’s already earned $78 million in 2019. But the company’s most promising weekend, at least in the U.S., will come in December, when Disney will release a movie no fan wants to watch on a screen from far, far away: Star Wars: Episode IX.