What happened

Shares of National CineMedia (NCMI 0.62%) fell as much as 33.5% on Tuesday morning as investors reacted to a weak third-quarter earnings report. By 10:50 a.m. EST, the provider of advertising services for movie theaters had recovered to a milder 19% drop.

So what

National CineMedia's third-quarter revenue rose 0.4% year over year to $110.5 million. Adjusted earnings fell from $0.14 to $9.12 per share. Your average analyst has been looking for earnings near $0.13 per share on sales in the neighborhood of $119 million. Looking ahead, the company also slashed its full-year revenue guidance by 3%, stopping at roughly $440 million. The current Street view calls for approximately $455 million.

A movie theater full of people reacts to something scary or shocking on the unseen screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

If there were an upside to this dismal third-quarter report, it would be that it was an improvement over even weaker long-term trends. National CineMedia's total year-to-date sales are down 2.1% compared to the same period in 2018. And management still kept a stiff upper lip.

"Although the third quarter was not quite as strong as we expected, we still grew our top line and have put a strategic growth plan in place that is designed to create shareholder value," said CEO Tom Lesinski in a prepared statement.

The proof will be in the pudding, and many investors are not sticking around to see how the turnaround plans will work out. After all, the very idea of movie theaters is taking on a quaintly outdated sheen. This was a business report that only a mother could love. I'm not surprised to see National CineMedia's stock on the receiving end of a drastic haircut today.