16 August 2012 10:35
The UK's largest cinema operator, Cineworld, has said that it is looking to the second half to boost revenues, as audience numbers declined in the first 26 weeks of the year.
The group saw box office admissions drop 0.8% in the 26 weeks to June 28th, although revenues held up as the group increased average ticket prices by 5% to £5.15.
The group, which has 79 cinemas and 811 screens, said it was in line to meet full-year expectations due to a strong second-half film line-up including the latest Bond film, The Hobbit and the final instalment of the vampire romance Twilight series.
Cineworld chief executive Stephen Wiener said: "The timing of these releases means that trade is expected to be strongest in the last two months of the year."
The company, based in Chiswick, London, said total revenues were 1.1% higher at £165.4 million in the half-year, while operating profits increased by 21.5% to £15.8 million.
Wayne Brown, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said: "These results are encouraging, as the first half of the year was up against tough comparatives and set against a period containing global sporting events and a weaker film slate when compared to last year."
The group said the performance of 3D films has been "stabilising" over the last year with 15 3D film releases during the first half, compared with 17 last year, representing around 15% of Cineworld's admissions, down from 17% in 2011.
There have been indications that the 3D boom may already be over after the British Film Institute released a survey showing 3D takings were down despite a doubling in the number of films in this format.
It was hoped that the 3D format would spark a new era for cinema operators, which charge extra for the required glasses and in some cases more for a ticket.
Cineworld said film studios were becoming "increasingly adept" in discerning the genre and target audience of 3D films, but added: "The quality of 3D film product remains absolutely critical."
Retail revenue – such as refreshments and snacks – was 2.1% lower than the previous year, with the average spend per person dipping to £1.65 during the half-year due to the tough consumer spending climate.