Movie Theater Stocks Suffer After a Disappointing Memorial Day Weekend At The Box Office

By Trey Williams Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of movie exhibitors and theater chain operators were down Tuesday after the box office suffered its lowest 4-day Memorial Day weekend draw in 18 years. AMC Entertainment Corp. led the decline, falling nearly 5%, while IMAX Corp. fell 4%, Cinemark Holdings Inc. fell more than 2% and Marcus Corp. fell 2%. Regal Entertainment Group's was less severe, falling less than 1%. The box office brought in an estimated $179.0 million over the 4-day weekend, which is the lowest gross for the typically busy weekend since 1999, said ComScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Foot traffic at the multiplex, which has been relatively stagnant for years, disappointed over the weekend. Dergarabedian said the slate of movies so far this summer, aside from Walt Disney Co.'s "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," have been poor. Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" topped the holiday box office but received little help from critics, pulling in $77.0 million, according to ComScore estimates. The box office's other new comer, "Baywatch," distributed by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures pulled in just $23.0 million. So far in the summer season, the box office is down 5.6% compared with the same time frame last year. "The pressure is on right now," Dergarabedian said, as the industry looks to June releases "Wonder Woman" from Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., Disney's "Cars 3" and "Despicable Me 3" from Comcast Corp.-owned Universal Pictures. The S&P 500 index was flat during Tuesday trade.

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