Cineworld banking on 007 and Batman for second half growth

CINEWORLD, Britain’s biggest movie theatre group, said it expects performance to pick up in the coming months as blockbusters including the new James Bond film are released.

The company posted a modest rise in revenues in the first half of the year to £165m, as a five per cent hike in ticket prices offset a slight decline in admissions. Only one of Cineworld’s expected top-five grossing films, The Avengers, was released in the first half of the year. The other four – The Dark Knight Rises; the new Bond film, Skyfall; The Hobbit; and the final Twilight film – will boost sales in the second half of the year, chief financial officer Philip Bowcock told City A.M.

The firm announced a dividend of 3.8p per share as operating profits rose 21.5 per cent to £15.8m. The group has also completed a move to digital in all of its cinemas, a move that is estimated to save up to £2m a year.

Cineworld, which operates 79 cinemas in the country, is the highest-grossing cinema group in the UK ahead of Odeon and Vue. The three make up around three-quarters of the market.

Sales in July and August are expected to have been dented by the Olympics, but chief executive Stephen Weiner said performance had been “in line with expectations” over the period.

“While H1 was relatively unexciting from a numbers perspective, it is the medium to long-term structural margin opportunity that is the main attraction,” Nick Batram, an analyst at Peel Hunt, said.