Analyst Downgrades Theater Chains After 'Disastrous' 'Jack the Giant Slayer' Opening

Paul Bond
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After several weeks of lackluster moviegoing in the U.S., a Wall Street analyst downgraded the theater chains Monday, sending shares of Regal Entertainment, Cinemark Holdings and Carmike Cinemas lower.

In a research note, analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley Caris called the $28 million opening of Jack the Giant Slayer “disastrous” and said the overall $83 million at the domestic box office over the weekend represented a 38 percent year-over-decline.

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Mostly, though, he worried about an ominous trend of weakness that could get worse this month, given that comparisons from last year include such hits as The Hunger Games and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.

Wold had been predicting box-office revenue to fall domestically in the first quarter by 10 percent compared with a year ago, but he said Monday that “our updated analysis now points to a potential decline of 15 percent.”

“After six consecutive disappointing box office weekends and the expectation for increasingly difficult comparisons in March," he wrote, "we would not be surprised if continued headlines and additional estimate reductions and/or ratings downgrades weigh” on the sector.

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Caris downgraded Cinemark, Regal and Carmike from "buy" to “neutral.” He cut his price target on Cinemark and regal by $2 each and sliced Carmike by $2.50.

Shares of Cinemark fell 1 percent to $27.14 on Monday, Regal was off 1 percent to $15.20, and Carmike was off 4 percent to $15.50.