Movie theaters with amenities like bigger screens did well in 'Jurassic World' debut weekend

MarketsAssociated Press

Moviegoers watched bigger dinosaurs on bigger screens, sat in bigger seats, and forked over bigger bucks.

"Jurassic World" roared its way to the largest weekend gross ever, according to media measurement company Rentrak, as it bought in $511.8 million. It grossed $204.6 million in North America, close to a record. The movie features bigger dinosaurs with more genetic alterations than the 1993 original and its sequels, and almost everything about the movie experience has also gotten bigger.

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Analysts said "premium" movie formats like Imax's large screens and RealD's 3-D projection technology did particularly well over the first weekend of "Jurassic World," as almost half the U.S. audience saw the movie in 3-D. Meanwhile the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., Regal Entertainment, is bringing luxury reclining seats and expanded food and drink menus to more of its theaters.

Imax and Real-D both set company records over the weekend during an otherwise disappointing summer at the box office, analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley & Co. said. He thinks business will stay strong for "Jurassic World" and the Imax and Real-D formats will do better than less-fancy alternatives. That's good for AMC Entertainment, he added, because it has a large proportion of Imax-format screens.

He kept "Buy" ratings both Imax and Real-D. Imax Corp. shares have been climbing over the last year and they added 24 cents to $42.71 in midday trading. Earlier they set an all-time high of $42.98. RealD Inc. stock fell 11 cents to $12.88. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. shares gained 17 cents to $28.64.

Regal says luxury reclining seats have been installed at more than 300 screens in its theatres over the last two years, and while that's a small portion of the company's 7,300 screens, it's hoping to boost that total to 500 by the end of the current fiscal year. The company is also expanding food and alcoholic drink menus at its movie theaters and setting up bigger screens. Competitors AMC and Cinemark Holdings Inc. are also rolling out options like bigger screens, premium seating, and dine-in theaters.

Analyst Matthew Harrison of Wunderlich Securities said Regal is experiencing strong attendance growth at the bulked-up theaters and the costs of putting in the bigger chairs are relatively low.

He has a "Buy" rating on Regal Entertainment Corp. stock, which rose 60 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $20.98.

"Jurassic World" is distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal. Comcast shares fell 13 cents to $58.13.