Universal Pictures Q1 Profit Falls 45%

The movie business is often a financial rollercoaster, with release slates and fickle box office turning previous successes into future fiscal headaches.

Universal Pictures said first-quarter (ended March 31) revenue dropped 16.3% to $1.6 billion from $1.9 billion in the previous-year period, primarily due to lower theatrical revenue. The studio includes Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Theatrical revenue decreased 35% due to the higher number of movies in release in last year’s first quarter, including comparing financial results from Fifty Shades DarkerSingSplit and Get Out in last year’s quarter against performances of Fifty Shades Freed, Pacific Rim Uprising, Darkest Hour and Pitch Perfect 3 in this year’s first quarter.

Fifty Shades Darker generated $114.5 million at the previous-period domestic box office compared to $100 million for follow-up Fifty Shades Freed this year.

Animation hit, Sing, generated $634 million globally, including more than $270 million domestically. It also generated almost $63 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc sales in 2017, according to The-Numbers.com. That’s more than the combined box office tally from Pitch Perfect 3, Darkest Hour and Pacific Rim Uprising.

Studio pre-tax income fell 45.2% to $203 million from $370.4 million in the previous-year period, reflecting the decline in revenue, partially offset by lower programming and production costs.

Universal Upped 2017 Home Entertainment Revenue

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Jan. 24 reported fiscal 2017 revenue of more than $1.32 billion, which was up about 5% from revenue of $1.25 billion in 2016.

The studio said fourth-quarter revenue declined 20% to $377 million from revenue of $471 million in the previous-year period.

Home Entertainment Q4 revenue decreases reflected the success of several releases in the prior year period, including The Secret Life of Pets and Jason Bourne, partially offset by Despicable Me 3 in this year’s fourth quarter.

Overall quarterly studio revenue decreased 5.2% to $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, reflecting lower theatrical, home entertainment, and other revenue, partially offset by increased content licensing revenue.

Theatrical revenue plummeted 42.1%, primarily due to a higher number of releases in last year’s fourth quarter, including animated Sing, partially offset by the performance of this year’s fourth quarter releases, including Pitch Perfect 3 

PP3 has generated more than $100 million at the global box office since its Dec. 22, 2017 theatrical launch. Sing generated $270 million at the 2016/17 box office.

Content licensing revenue increased 21.2%, driven by the timing of when content was made available under licensing agreements. Adjusted pre-tax earnings increased by 90% to $230 million, reflecting lower programming and production costs, partially offset by the decline in revenue.

For the year, studio increased 20.4% to $7.7 billion compared to 2016, reflecting higher theatrical, content licensing, other and home entertainment revenue. Adjusted pre-tax earnings increased 83.3% to $1.3 billion compared to 2016, reflecting higher revenue, partially offset by increased programming and production costs.