Reading International has announced financial results for the second quarter of 2020—and shed light on the future of the company’s operations in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
CEO Ellen Cotter admitted that the second quarter of 2020 was “probably the most challenging quarter this company will ever have experienced,” an assessment borne out in the company’s year-on-year loss of revenue in Q2. Reading International’s cinema revenue (the company also has real estate operations) was down 99 percent in the U.S., 98 percent in Australia, and 96 percent in New Zealand, for an average dip in revenue of 98 percent.
Reading has gotten a boost in the form of reopened theaters in New Zealand and Australia, where it is the fourth and third largest exhibitor, respectively. All 10 of Reading’s New Zealand theaters opened in the first week of June, save one, which has to remain closed due to non-Covid factors; in August, another location had to shut its doors due to a new cluster of cases in the capital city of Auckland. During July, attendance in Reading’s New Zealand cinemas was approximately 22% of what it was in the same period during 2019. This statistic, argues Cotter, represents “a hopeful statement for the industry” given that only one new Hollywood release (Trolls World Tour) came out in New Zealand during that time frame. In Australia, July attendance in Reading theaters was 10% of what it was in 2019. However, Cotter notes, there were no Hollywood releases in July 2020, which additionally saw five of Readings’ Australia locations closed due to government mandate. 16 of the chain’s 23 Australian cinemas are currently open, ready for Tenet‘s release in Australia and New Zealand on August 26.
In the United States, Reading is (as of February 2020) the 23rd largest exhibitor with 24 locations (all currently closed) spread across the Reading Cinemas, Angelika Film Centers, Consolidated Theatres, City Cinemas, and State Cinema brands. Noted Cotter, “Most of our theaters are in regions that have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, like New York, New Jersey, Texas and California.” Four locations in Hawaii, operated under the Consolidated Theatres brand, will open on August 21. Two cinemas under Reading International’s Angelika brand, the Angelika Dallas and the Angelika at Mosaic (in Fairfax, VA) will open on August 28.
During the period of Reading International’s shutdown, the chain launched a Reading Cinema Eats at Home program for curbside and delivery food orders. In three cinemas in Hawaii, Reading International has begun to offer private rentals, also available in select Australia and New Zealand locations. Says Cotter of offering private rentals in Hawaii, “we were inundated within hours with requests.” In the U.S., Reading International partnered with specialty distributors to dip into the virtual theatrical model. While Cotter admits that the virtual theatrical model has grossed Reading cinemas “only” $50,000, she argues that the experience has “has helped us in the development of our own streaming platform,” to be launched in Q3 2020 under the name Angelika Anywhere. In doing so, they will join Alamo Drafthouse and Showcase Cinemas, which have also launched VOD platforms during the shutdown.