‘Avengers’ produces record box office for Regal

dd3c84569636b00c0e0f6a7067009af0.jpgOpening weekend for the super hero movie “The Avengers” produced super ticket sales for movie theater operator Regal Entertainment Group.

The action film “earned an unprecedented $42 million in gross admissions revenue,” the Knoxville-based company said Monday.

The ticket total beat “previous company and domestic exhibition records,” according to a news release.

The “Avengers” smashed the box office competition for the three-day weekend that started Friday, earning more than $200 million, according to Reuters. No. 2 on the weekend box office ranking was “Think Like a Man,” which produced $8 million.

Regal’s strong weekend continues a solid financial run for the largest theater operator in the country. Last week the company reported a first quarter profit of $46.3 million on revenues of $684.9 million, well above analyst expectations and the company’s best quarter in years.

First quarter results were helped by the blockbuster post-apocalyptic action movie “The Hunger Games,” which has sold more than $600 million in tickets worldwide since its release in March.

Controlling costs also helped boost the 1Q bottom line, Regal CFO David Ownby told News Sentinel reporter Carly Harrington following release of the company’s earnings report.

Theater managers did a good job of controlling variable costs, like payroll, Ownby said.

While “Hunger Games” was a big hit, 12 of the first quarter’s 13 weeks showed consistent box office growth, Ownby said.

“As an industry, we’re always going to have ups and downs,” he said. “What people often miss is how stable it is long term and how much cash we’re able to deliver on a consistent basis.”

Photo:  In this film image released by Disney, Chris Hemsworth portrays Thor, left, and Chris Evans portrays Captain America in a scene from “The Avengers.” (AP Photo/Disney, Zade Rosenthal)