Cineworld Group’s (Cineworld) box office revenue closed in on pre-pandemic levels last month, powered by the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is now closing in on £80m at the UK box office.
The second largest cinema exhibitor in the world, with operations in 10 countries including Regal Cinemas in the US, reported that like-for-like revenues worldwide were at 88 per cent last month compared to pre-pandemic levels in December 2019.
In the UK, box office and concession revenues were at 89 per cent of former levels last month, while an even bigger spike was reported in October following the release of the latest James Bond film, when revenues passed figures from two years ago.
Revenues were 27 per cent higher than October 2019 after the release of No Time To Die, which has become the third biggest film in the history of the UK box office, grossing £96.6m, behind only Skyfall (£103.2m) and Star Wars: Force Awakens (£123.2m).
The success of both movies pushed Cineworld into positive cash flows in the fourth-quarter.
Other popular movies released over the past six months include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom, Black Widow, Dune, Free Guy, and Eternals.
Nevertheless, attendances in the second half of 2021 remained generally below pre-pandemic expectations, with the group reporting revenues between 50-60 per cent in the other months.
The movie giant cites changes in the film slate for November mainly due to “Top Gun: Maverick” moving to May 2022 for the stuttering nature of the recovery, combined with the onset of the Omicron variant.
Alongside the return of Maverick, Cineworld hopes performance will be boosted by upcoming movies such as The Batman, Morbius, Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Thor: Love and Thunde, and another Tom Cruise flick, Mission: Impossible 7.
Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “We have seen recovery in theatre attendances across our geographies, which generated a positive cashflow performance for Q4. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has shown the importance for studios of cinematic releases. Whilst there are challenges ahead, we are excited to welcome customers to our cinemas to enjoy the highly anticipated slate of movies throughout 2022.”
Cineworld also confirms it has serviced notice of its appeal against the verdict of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The Canadian court ordered Cineworld to pay out £722m in damages and costs to rival Cineplex, after it was sued sued for pulling out of a takeover deal.
The damages payout is worth more than the company’s market capitalisation.
Cineworld saw its shares plummeted almost 40 per cent following the announcement, as it became the most-shorted stock in the UK last month.
It will announce its full year results on Thursday 17 March 2022.