‘Cats’ failure cuts into Comcast’s 4th-quarter earnings

“Cats,” the musical movie that bombed at the box office, scratched away at Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings, even as overall profits soared 26 percent.

The cable giant’s entertainment unit, NBCUniversal, reported a 49 percent drop in profits for the last three months of 2019 due to sagging demand for the movie based on the stage musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Shares of Comcast, which owns “Cats” producer Universal Pictures, fell 3.7 percent, to $45.69, in midday trading Thursday as a result.

Despite its big-name stars, like Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, James Corden and Jennifer Hudson, the $95 million production grossed just $26.8 million in the US and Canada, and $35.5 million abroad, between Dec. 20, when it was released, and Jan. 20, according to Box Office Mojo.

It was widely panned by critics, and fodder for jokes, including by comedian Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes this month.

“The world got to see James Corden as a fat pussy. He was also in the movie ‘Cats,’” the awards show host joked. “But no one saw that. And the reviews — shocking. I saw one that said this is the worst thing to happen to cats since dogs.”

Rotten Tomatoes, which gave “Cats” a lowly 20 percent score, called the movie a “clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery” — sentiments that translated to Comcast’s bottom line. The movie added to a 48.9 percent decline in the film unit’s profit, which totaled $91 million as revenue fell 21 percent, to $1.56 billion.

Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts focused instead on the company’s growing broadband subscriber base, as well as the April 15 launch of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service to compete with Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and others.

“I would say Peacock is a way to make us a better, stronger competitor in a way that’s good for all of our businesses,” he said.

Comcast added 442,000 broadband subscribers during the quarter, beating Wall Street’s expectation for 378,000. It also lost 149,000 cable subscribers as consumers continued to the cord.

Overall net income rose 25.9 percent to $3.16 billion, or 68 cents a share. Excluding items, the company earned 79 cents a share. Revenue rose 2 percent, to $28.4 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings per share of 76 cents on revenue of $28.2 billion.

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