RLJ Entertainment Ups Q1 Loss

Independent distributor RLJ Entertainment May 10 reported a first-quarter net loss of $6.5 million, compared with a net loss of $6.1 million during the previous-year period. Revenue increased 34% to $18.5 million, from $13.8 million a year ago.

RLJE, which includes Image Entertainment, Agatha Christie Ltd., RLJ Entertainment Ltd., and Acorn Productions Ltd., attributed the higher loss to non-cash warrant expense driven by the appreciation of the company’s stock price.

RLJE said increase in revenue was primarily driven by the over-the-top video business.

The digital channels unit, which includes Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel (UMC), saw the collective subscriber base increase 44% to more than 750,000 members, from 520,000 in the previous-year period. Segment revenue increased 45% to $8.7 million from $6 million last year.

“Our increased investments in unique and original content, expanded consumer awareness and broader distribution resulted in a strong first quarter,” CEO Miguel Penella said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the wholesale distribution segment, which includes packaged media, saw revenue increase nearly 25% year-over-year – driven by digital distribution.

“Digital sales led … as we continue to transform the business from physical to digital [content],” Penella said.

Equity earnings from Agatha Christie Limited increased 42% to $800,000 — driven by film and publishing business segments. RLJE owns 64% of the company that manages Christie’s literary works, including more than 80 novels and short stories, 19 plays, and 40 TV movies, featuring characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marble.

In 2013, RLJE licensed theatrical, home entertainment rights to Murder on the Orient Express to 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Fox released a remake last December, starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, that generated $351 million at the global box office. Fox released the title into retail channels Feb. 27.

As previously reported, CFO Nazir Rostom is leaving May 11 after two years with the company.

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