Cinema software specialist Vista Group bleeds red ink on pandemic closures

Cinema software specialist Vista Group bleeds red ink on pandemic closures

Company pushes harder into the production side of the movie business

Kimbal Riley (Vista Group)

Kimbal Riley (Vista Group)

Credit: Vista Group

NZX-listed movie industry software specialist Vista Group reported large losses today and revenues down nearly 40 per cent as the global industry suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vista Group reported revenues of $87.5 million, down from $144.5 million, and a net loss after tax of $57 million, including $70 million of non-cash items.

CEO Kimbal Riley said the company had successfully navigated a very challenging 2020 and was positioned to take advantage of an industry recovery. 

"After a very difficult first half, the second half was well managed by our team, supporting our customers and ensuring we are in the best possible health for what 2021 will offer.”

Despite the strong headwinds, Vista Group still managed to report $3 million in positive operating cashflows, down 81 per cent year on year, and cash on hand of $67 million.

“At the half year announcement, I talked of our resilience, so it is great to be able to talk about our hard-earned position of strength. 

"Regardless of when and where the recovery comes in 2021, Vista is positioned better than ever to help our customers back onto their feet and our moviegoers back into their seats.”

Vista Group is currently redeveloping its software offerings for the cloud as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

Riley said the pace of that development would continue to accelerate in 2021 for pilot customers late in the year and full commercial launch in the first half of 2022.

The future of the industry was a matter of debate even before COVID-19 as streaming services grew in strength and market power. 

Last year Hollywood’s heavyweights James Cameron, Patty Jenkins and Martin Scorsese asked the US government to help save cinemas, warning that more than two thirds of cinemas were likely to fold without a bailout.

However, Vista Group today said cinema business in geographies where they remained open, such as Japan and China, was strong. With the rollout of vaccines and declining COVID-19 numbers in some markets, the company was confident of a rebound during 2021.

Vista reported average cash burn per month was $3.7 million, within forecast range $3 million to $4 million per month.

The group completed the major aspects of its simplification project with the acquisition of the remaining external shareholding in its Maccs and Cinema Intelligence businesses. 

The integration of the Maccs business with Vista's Numero business was well under way as the company sought to increase the proportion of its overall group activities coming from the studio and distributor segments rather than retail cinemas.

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