Blockbusters and ticket hikes boost Cineworld

CINEWORLD, the UK’s largest movie theatre operator, once again blew away City forecasts yesterday, posting a 10.5 per cent rise in sales thanks to the success of blockbusters including Iron Man 3 and the Life of Pi.

Improved trading at Picturehouse, the boutique cinema chain Cineworld bought at the end of last year, also boosted the company.

With Picturehouse’s sales – which rose 12.9 per cent – factored in, Cineworld saw revenues rise 21.9 per cent in the half year to 27 June.

The company said admissions in its core business were up 5.5 per cent year-on-year, with a hike in ticket prices also contributing to growth. Sales of popcorn and soft drinks, meanwhile, were up 9.8 per cent.

Cineworld’s shares – which are up 70 per cent on 12 months ago – rose 4.4 per cent yesterday, with performance beating expectations.

However, although the company said there is a strong pipeline of 3D films in the next few months, it admitted that it doesn’t expect growth in the second half of 2013 to be as strong as the comparative period in 2012, when Skyfall sent people flocking to cinemas.

The industry is still anticipating a host of blockbusters in the next few months, with Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, the second Hobbit film and the next instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy all promising healthy box office figures.

Cineworld – which has 77 multiplex sites as well as Picturehouse’s 21 outlets – will open a new nine-screen cinema in Wembley this year.