MGM’s TV Licensing for ‘Skyfall’ And ‘Hobbit’ Lift Q1 Earnings

This is why it’s a good idea for studios to diversify. MGM’s theatrical and home entertainment revenues were down in Q1, but global TV licensing saved the day, according to the privately held company’s financial report to its investors today.

MGM generated net income of $56.8 million, up 27.4% compared with the period last year, on revenues of $364.5 million, up 8.3%.

Worldwide theatrical revenue fell 13.1% to $96.2 million in a quarter where The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (released in December) contrasted with late-2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. Although the films generated comparable box office sales, revenues from weak overseas currencies were depressed when converted into dollars. MGM didn’t recognize revenues from Hot Tub Time Machine 2, released in February, due to the way it accounts for distribution fees from movies it doesn’t control.

Home Entertainment revenues fell 6.6% to $46.6 million as the studio’s latest releases couldn’t match last year’s slate with Carrie. MGM says it put a “strategic moratorium” on new shipments of James Bond films ahead of a planned promotion for Spectre, which hits theaters late this year.

But Television Licensing did the heavy lifting, rising 66.2% to $193.5 million. MGM attributes this to “significant new television licensing agreements” overseas plus initial TV fees in many countries for Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The studio also had a full pipeline for VOD, streaming and pay TV services with titles including Hercules, 22 Jump Street, If I Stay, Vikings, and Fargo.

MGM says it recorded $6.2 million from its 55% stake in United Artists Media Group, its joint venture with Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Hearst Productions. But that reported number factors out amortization costs — the studio actually received $9.6 million in cash.

The company recorded $14 million of earnings from its 19.1% ownership stake in Epix — a joint venture with Viacom and Lionsgate.

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