Cineworld announces a blockbuster year in 2016 as consumers look for entertainment in spite of weak pound

Courtney Goldsmith
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The recent Star Wars film helped Cineworld celebrate a record-breaking year
The recent Star Wars film helped Cineworld celebrate a record-breaking year (Source: Getty)

The force was with Cineworld this year as top-performing films like Star Wars: Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them boosted admissions to break the 100m milestone.

The cinema operator reported revenue growth of 8.3 per cent on a constant currency basis and said it is in line with current market expectations.

Retail sales boomed, increasing 12.7 per cent against the same period the previous year, as consumers increasingly buy tickets online and have more time to spend in concessions, newly appointed chief financial officer Nisan Cohen said.

Cineworld implemented seven new Starbucks outlets at cinemas and three food serving VIP sites.

After admission figures were down four per cent for the first half of 2016, admissions for the year are expected to increase 3.7 per cent in the UK and Ireland and 13.5 per cent in the rest of the world as consumers shunned worries of a weak pound in favour of entertainment.

There is little correlation between the state of the economy and admission sales, Cohen said. "Cinemas are affordable entertainment," he said, unlike decisions to buy a new house, car or go on holiday.

Strong performance is more to do with a solid film lineup.

Other top-performing films in the year to 31 December 2016 included Bridget Jones's Baby, The Jungle Book, The Secret Life of Pets and Zootropolis.

The group currently operates 226 sites with 2,115 screens. Over the course of 2016, eight sites were added, building on a record number of 18 openings in 2015. This year, 13 new sites are set to open – six in the UK and seven in the rest of the world.

Cineworld's 4DX screens, which use special effects like seat vibrations to provide a more immersive experience, performed well in 2016. At the end of the year, the group had 27 in total, including one in London that opened in December.

2017's strong slate of movies includes several that are more linked to a 4DX experience, like Fast and Furious 8 and Star Wars: Episode VIII, Cohen said.

Other releases slated for the year, which play on sequals and remakes like 2016, are Beauty and the Beast, Despicable Me 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

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