The weak box office sales this past weekend made it clear that the year is going to end with a whimper. Regal’s shares fell 8.7%, making it the biggest loser among the theater chains followed by Carmike (-4.9%) and Cinemark (-2.9%). Companies closely aligned with theaters also suffered: 3-D technology provider RealD fell 6.2% while ad seller National Cinemedia was off nearly 3%. “The hoped-for 4Q11 box office pop is slipping away,” says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. Ticket sales so far this quarter are down about 6.9% vs the same period last year, he says. He predicts the quarter will end down 1.9% following an expected surge of Christmas weekend turnout for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as it goes into wide release, Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin.
Separately, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield lowered his 2012 earnings estimate for Dreamworks Animation to $1.08 a share from $1.25. He says that DVD and Blu-ray sales of Kung Fu Panda 2 are lower than he expected due to the “rapid decline in the DVD business.” He also slashed his overseas box office estimate for Puss In Boots to $300.3M from $342.6M “Despite the strength in Russia, Puss And Boots’ international box office has not lived up to our expectations (only major markets yet to open are Scandavia and Japan),” Greenfield says.