The Force awakens Cineplex profits, as Star Wars fans flock to the movies in Q1

Canada's largest chain of movie theatres says it set a record for attendance in the first quarter thanks in part to the continued interest in the Star Wars saga and a strong February opening for Deadpool.

Cineplex Inc. says it hosted 20.6 million patrons during the first three months of this year, a 17.4 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2015.

Revenue from all Cineplex business lines totalled $379.9 million, up 30.8 per cent from $289.8 million a year earlier.

Box office sales accounted for $192.6 million of the total revenue, with smaller contributions coming from food, amusement games and other types of leisure activities.

Cineplex reaped an average of $9.36 per patron from the box office and $5.44 per patron from concession sales, up about five per cent in both cases.

Net income more than doubled to $21.5 million or 34 cents per share from $10.5 million or 17 cents per share and the dividend to Cineplex shareholders will increase by 3.8 per cent to $1.62 per share on an annualized basis.

Deadpool opened in February and was the top film in the first quarter for Cineplex, followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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