Oscar films help draw crowds at Cineworld sites

Kasmira Jefford
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CINEWORLD said the Oscars have helped lure more cinema-goers since the start of the year after its recent acquisition of Poland’s Cinema City group weighed on full-year profits.

The cinema chain said the strong line-up of films released ahead of Sunday’s Oscars including 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle meant trading in the first quarter had got off to a good start and was in line with expectations.

Pre-tax profits for the year to 26 December fell 19 per cent to £30.9m as a result of around £6m of costs related to its acquisition of Poland’s Cinema City International (CCI) group last month.

Cineworld bought CCI for just over £500m in a deal that has expanded its footprint in eastern Europe and made it Europe’s second biggest cinema operator with 1,852 screens.

The Competition Commission’s investigation into its acquisition of Picturehouse in 2012, which resulted in Cineworld being forced to sell three cinemas, also wiped £1.2m off profits.

Revenue last year rose 13.2 per cent to £406.1m, with the Picturehouse chain contributing £36.6m.

Cineworld said its UK and Ireland box office market share increased to 27.4 per cent in 2013, from 26.4 per cent in 2012. Box office revenue rose 10.8 per cent to £279.9m, accounting for 69 per cent of the total revenue.

That compared with a one per cent decline in UK box office revenue last year.

CFO Philip Bowcock said that, like 2013, 2014 would be quiet in terms of blockbusters ahead of major releases such as the new Star Wars and Bond film in 2015.