Theater operator Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK) reported first-quarter results that were far worse than analysts expected

While being forced to close its movie theaters hurt its performance, investors might be surprised by the size of the miss, since the lockdown period only represented two weeks out of the quarter. Cinemark may have come up short anyway, even without the COVID-19 pandemic.

A couple cries in a movie theater.

Image source: Getty Images.

Lights out for theaters

Cinemark reported revenue of $543.6 million, down 24% from the $714.7 million it notched last year and below the $556.6 million Wall Street was looking for. It reported a net loss of $59.6 million, or $0.51 per share, versus a profit of $32.7 million, or $0.28 per share. Analysts had forecast a loss of just $0.16 per share.

CEO Mark Zoradi said in a statement, "As a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to close all of our theaters in the middle of March, which had a significant impact on our first quarter results, and continues to impact us today."

Yet Cinemark closed all of its theaters on March 18 and the quarter ended on March 31. While the two-week period with no customers coming in played a substantial role in the underperformance, it seems clear the theater operator wasn't doing well beforehand, as the pandemic may have kept people home before the shutdown order went into effect.

Theater attendance was 45.8 million patrons, down from 62.3 million last year, while average ticket price increased 0.6% to $6.39. And despite the downturn, concession revenue per patron actually increased 3.2% year over year to $4.16.

Theaters generally were already suffering before the pandemic, which exacerbated the problem. Cinemark will begin reopening its theaters on June 19.