August 9, 2021

(Reuters) -Cinema operator AMC Entertainment beat second-quarter revenue estimates on Monday, lifted by the return of moviegoers to its theaters after a year of closures and restrictions.

The latest installment of the fast and furious film ‘F9: THE FAST SAGA’ in June and “Godzilla vs Kong” at the end of March, gave AMC much needed relief from the blows it has taken from the pandemic over the past year due to theater closures.

Nearly all of AMC’s theaters reopened during the quarter as more people got vaccinated and pandemic-related curbs were eased.

But ticket sales at the world’s largest theater chain are still far off the billions it was raking in two years ago, with film release cycles yet to pick up and the threat of the Delta variant of the virus hanging over audiences.

AMC capitalized on the surge in its share price to raise more than $1 billion through equity offerings, cushioning the damage from dried up ticket sales during the pandemic.

Revenue at the company, one of the “meme stocks” at the center of a boom in small-time investing this year, rose to $444.7 million in the quarter ended June 30, from $18.9 million a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $382.1 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net loss narrowed to $344 million, or 71 cents per share, from $561.2 million, or $5.38 per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)