Marcus Corp. lost $125 million in 2020

Expects to capitalize on pent-up demand as pandemic subsides

Saint Kate is located at 139 E. Kilbourn Ave. Photo credit: Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Last updated on March 9th, 2021 at 11:23 am

Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. lost $124.8 million during fiscal 2020, which its CEO called the most challenging year in company history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotel, movie theater and restaurant chain operator on Thursday reported total revenues of $237.7 million for fiscal 2020, down about 71% from fiscal 2019, when the company recorded earnings of $820.9 million.

Marcus recorded a net loss of $4.13 per share for the year, compared to earnings of $42 million, or $1.35 per share in 2019.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, total revenue dropped 82% year-over-year, from $206.9 million in the 2019 fiscal fourth quarter to $36.7 million in the 2020 fourth quarter.

The company recorded a net loss of $39 million, or $1.29 per share, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, compared to earnings of $7.8 million, or $0.25 per share, during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Without question, 2020 was the most challenging year in our history, with the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacting our businesses and the industries in which we compete,” said Gregory Marcus, president and chief executive officer of The Marcus Corporation.

The company’s theater division has been hardest hit throughout the pandemic, with annual admission and concession revenue plummeting 77% and 75%, respectively. Hotel room revenue for the year was down 66%. However, Marcus Corp. is prepared to capitalize on pent-up demand for experience-based or social activities — something the pandemic and mandated lockdowns has largely halted for the past year.

“As we ended 2020 and turned the corner into 2021, improving COVID-19 conditions in our markets, significant progress related to the vaccines, along with growing consumer confidence gives us encouragement that better days are ahead,” said Marcus.

To date, about 30% of Marcus’ 89 theater locations across 17 states remain temporarily closed due in part to local restrictions, but mostly, as a result of business strategy decisions.

“The common theme for many of them is that they’re in markets where we already have theaters,” said Greg Marcus. “So, we made strategic decisions to try to concentrate the attendance and things that we do have right now with our other theaters.”

He said additional theater locations will reopen once new film releases begin to pick up and demands returns. All but one of Marcus Theatres’ 13 southeastern Wisconsin locations have reopened — the Hillside Cinema in Delafield.

During the fourth quarter, Marcus Theatres launched its ‘Private Cinema’ program — customers can rent an entire auditorium for up to 20 people for a flat free. Sales have exceeded expectations and helped offset reduced attendance.

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, demand for “out-of-home entertainment” is expected to increase and studio film production to ramp up. Films currently scheduled for 2021 include: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong,’ ‘Black Widow,’ Fast & Furious 9,’ ‘In the Heights,’ and ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru.’

“We are very encouraged by the recent record breaking performance of theatres in markets such as China and Japan, where the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has lessened,” said Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Marcus Theatres. “We are also encouraged by the recent news that government-imposed restrictions in New York City, one of the world’s largest movie markets, are beginning to lift.”

On the hotel and resort side, all eight company-owned hotels were open as of December 31, 2020, as well as nine out of 10 managed hotels and other properties. The majority of the company’s restaurants and bars were also open.

The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark in Lake Geneva have seen the highest demand, driven by the “drive-to leisure” market. Traffic on weekends is especially busy as visitors plan outdoor activities, such as golf in the summer and skiing in the winter.

The division expects a steady recovery this year as travel increases and groups plan future events. Group bookings that were cancelled last year due to COVID-19 are now rebooking for upcoming dates, including around the rescheduled Ryder Cup in Sheboygan County in September. There has also been an influx in wedding bookings.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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