Theater stocks slip after July 4th weekend fizzles at box office

Movie theater companies got a big thumbs down Monday after weakest summer holiday weekend in at least a decade.

The North American box office tumbled an estimated 44 percent compared to the July Fourth weekend last year.

B Riley analyst Eric Wold to cut his revenue expectations for several major operators and strip Cinemark of its "buy" rating.

The weekend lacked the debut of a high-profile blockbuster like "Spider-Man 2" or "War of the Worlds." The holiday also delivered a more limited punch this year because it fell on a Friday, which is already a lucrative day for theaters.

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" — expected to be one of the summer's biggest hits — won't debut until next week.

The unusual holiday lull meant that for the first time this summer, one movie — "Transformers: Age of Extinction" — held the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row after pulling in an estimated $36.4 million.

But its take dropped 63 percent compared with last weekend.

Wold lowered his second-quarter revenue estimates for Cinemark Holdings Inc., Carmike Cinemas Inc. and IMAX Corp.

In the big picture, Wold believes that most investors will remain loyal because they are focusing on a strong battery of releases slated for next year, rather than one dud weekend. The weak box office numbers, however, will lead to some spillage, he said.

Shares of sank 2.7 percent, or 95 cents, to $34.74 Monday afternoon, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped less than 1 percent. Carmike was down 27 cents to $34.76, and IMAX fell 35 cents to $27.89.