“The return of theater titles is well under way. However, this return really started months later than we expected when we acquired Redbox. As we look into 2022, there was only a small trickle of big budget-wide release hits breaking the years of theatrical drought. Movies like Top Gun: Maverick, Black Adam And Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But the frequency of the releases was sporadic and very slow,” said CEO William J. Rouhana, Jr. Friday to investors.
Now Rouhana says the frequency of wide releases is back, starting with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and he now expects a new major wide release every weekend for the rest of the year. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment expects to see that impact in its second quarter results.
“It’s like the floodgates have opened,” he said.
Still, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is still experiencing growing pains from the integration of Redbox, as well as a “challenging macroeconomic environment,” Rouhana said, and the company plans to sell more than four million shares to raise new capital.
The entertainment company, which is also behind Crackle and Chicken Soup for the Soul streaming services, plans to sell the shares for $2.30 per share, generating gross proceeds of approximately $10.8 million. Approximately 1.6 million of those shares will be purchased by parent company Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC.
The company has already cut costs, deferred executive bonuses to tie them to free cash flow expectations, and licensed $8 million worth of content. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment also plans to cut back on its content spend in 2023, with a goal of $19 million in content costs by 2023, and to sell certain assets not critical to its strategy to reduce its debt burden. As of December 31, 2022, the company had total gross debt of $500.2 million.
In addition to raising working capital, which should help fund operations through March 31, 2024 and beyond, the company says it has entered into an amended agreement with its parent company to pay $3.45 million in total fees incurred in earned in the first quarter of 2023 and $12.75 million in upcoming fees through the issuance of stock instead of cash.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment pays the parent company an incremental recurring license fee equal to 4 percent of net sales for each calendar quarter and a marketing fee of 1 percent of net sales. The parent company earns a management fee of 5 percent of net sales.
Shares plummeted more than 30 percent Friday morning after the announcement, and the company reported a larger fourth-quarter loss.
Net loss grew to $56.3 million from $22.1 million a year ago and $20.1 million in the third quarter. Total operating expenses increased to $215.8 million this quarter from $88.9 million a year ago.
The company reported fourth quarter net sales of $113.6 million, up from $36 million a year ago and $72.4 million in the third quarter.
Despite the difficult conditions, Rouhana said the company is “comfortable” with the connected TV advertising environment and continues to see strong performance across its FAST networks and AVOD platforms.
“Everyone is worried about the banks. Everyone is concerned about inflation. Everyone seems to be worried about everything now. I don’t see much sign in the ad market of the kind of slowdown in connected television that can be seen in broadcast and cable,” Rouhana said.