Batman comes to Cineworld's aid

Cineworld's profits nearly double as Batman and the Avengers help pull in the customers.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 28 Oct 2014
As the film industry struggles against the tide of online pirates and dodgy DVDs, the picture’s looking rosy for cinema operator Cineworld. The UK’s largest cinema chain said revenues increased 1.1% in the first half of the year to £165m and operating profits rose by 21.5% to £15.8m.

Blockbusters including The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spiderman and Comic-book adventure Avengers Assemble helped drive sales. Even so, there was a slowdown in customers. Box office admissions dropped 0.8% between January and June.

Ticket prices were pushed up 5% from £4.90 to £5.15, which helped counter-act the waning audiences; but that also came at a price. The average spend on popcorn and snacks dipped to £1.65, and overall revenue from refreshments and snacks was 2.1% lower than the previous year at £38m.

A slowdown in advertising also put a dampener on Cineworld’s results. Ad sales fell 11.7% as Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games soaked up advertising spend. But Cineworld has saved on staff costs by switching to digital projection; and investors seem broadly won over. Shares in Cineworld have risen 30% over the past year, and rose marginally to 228p after today's results.

Cineworld also became the first major cinema chain to remove online booking fees in March, which pushed up MyCineworld registrations by almost 50%. Cineworld, which has 79 cinemas and 811 screens, says expectations are high for the second half of the year, when the latest Bond film Skyfall, The Hobbit and the final instalment of Twilight are released in the final quarter. Will James Bond save the day and bring the customers flocking back to the cinema?  

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