A leader in the motion picture exhibition industry since 1984, Cinemark creates movie magic for audiences across the world. Yet while Cinemark’s theaters feature the latest technology, including cinematic motion seats and immersive surround sound, prior to 2019, the company’s accounting teams were still stuck using a highly manual close process.
“We had limited visibility as to the status of reconciliations and tasks during our close,” says Laura Hill, senior accounting manager at Cinemark. “You wouldn’t know if a reconciliation had been completed until you pulled a folder out of the file cabinet and looked to see if it was signed—and if it still tied to the trial balance. It was quite a process.”
“Everything was very manual,” adds Caren Bedard, VP, Controllership and Treasury Operations. “It was folder after folder after folder for thousands of accounts. The last day of our close was just bringing folders around to different people to get signed off.”
Cinemark turned to BlackLine for finance automation that would bring new visibility, consistency, and efficiency to both account reconciliations and close task management. “One of the appeals of BlackLine was that it could handle data from all five of our ERPs,” says Hill. “We knew BlackLine would also enable us to standardize the reconciliations process across 10 global accounting offices.”
Working with BlackLine implementation partner Vaco, Cinemark had BlackLine up and running in just one month. “With our aggressive 30-day timeline, we needed a partner to keep us on our toes. Working with Vaco helped us through the entire process.”
Now used across both the US and Latin America, BlackLine was the “spark that lit a fire in our department,” says Hill. “It was the first product in decades that we implemented that just changed the whole philosophy of our department. We finally have the visibility we were looking for, we have the standardization, and we have eliminated paper pushing.”
Saved time. BlackLine transformed Cinemark’s entire approach to reconciliations. “We started with 1,800 domestic accounts. We’ve since reduced that to 900 and 40% of those are auto reconciled,” says Hill. “We’ve seen significant time savings.”
“[With BlackLine] we probably saved a full day of pushing paper around during the close process—maybe more than that,” adds Bedard. “When you eliminate that wasted time, it helps you move tasks to earlier in your close and shorten your close process.”
Reduced risk. Manual close processes are notoriously difficult to standardize across multiple accounting units. Today, with BlackLine Account Reconciliations, Cinemark’s processes and formats are consistent across 10 corporate offices.
“We now have a formal, global account reconciliations policy that all countries follow,” says Hill. “We also have clear segregation of duties and delineation of low- and high-risk accounts helping to mitigate risk and drive accountability.”
Increased visibility. Instead of searching through physical folders and spreadsheets, Cinemark accounting staff can now access reconciliations and key documentation within BlackLine, at any time, from anywhere. Close tasks are also visible, enabling accounting leaders to track and manage close progress and balance workloads for maximum efficiency.
“With BlackLine, we can see where we are at any point during the close,” says Bedard. “BlackLine helps us gauge what is still outstanding.”
Freed staff for value-added work. BlackLine’s automation capabilities enable staff to focus on more strategic and interesting work, instead of repetitive manual tasks. “With BlackLine, we have more time to work on continuous improvement initiatives that are in the pipeline,” says Hill.
Enabled business continuity. Hill credits Cinemark’s earlier adoption of BlackLine with a seamless transition to remote work during the pandemic.
“Like other companies, Cinemark was forced to close our offices and work remotely. Thanks to implementation of BlackLine, we were able to get our jobs done and continue with all of our work processes. I can't even imagine how we would have functioned during the pandemic without BlackLine.”
Cinemark recently implemented BlackLine Transaction Matching to streamline matching daily theater deposits and change orders. “We’re looking at expanding our use of Transaction Matching to credit cards, as well as for our alcohol activity, which requires a complex three-way match,” says Hill.
The company continues to look for additional ways to modernize their close process. “This is just the beginning of our transformation,” says Hill. “There are so many things that we’d like to do with BlackLine. We keep coming up with other ideas on what we can automate and how we can use the tool in the future.”