East Anglia: Family films deliver Christmas boost for Cineworld

THE group behind 10 of the region’s biggest cinema’s said today that a strong line-up of family films had helped deliver a late boost to box office sales in the final weeks of last year.

Cineworld, the UK’s largest cinema operator whose multiplex venues include Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhhill and Braintree, said ticket sales for the year to December 29 were up 2.7%, compared with growth of 1.4% in its previous update covering the first 42 weeks of the year.

Among the films proving popular over the festive period were Puss in Boots, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3, the fourth Mission Impossible film and Sherlock Holmes 2.

The increase in box office takings was partly offset by a decline in retail sales, with cash-conscious consumers cutting back on purchases of popcorn, sweets and drinks.

And sales of 3D glasses were also down compared with the previous year, as the novelty of the format began to wear off following a boom in 2010 and customers got into the habit of reusing pairs bought on previous visits.

Box office sales earlier in 2011 were led by strong demand for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2), British comedy The Inbetweeners Movie and multiple Oscar winner The King’s Speech.

And Cineworld said the line-up for 2012 was promising, including The Hobbit in 3D, the next James Bond film, Skyfall, and new Batman and Spiderman movies.

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Chief financial officer Philip Bowcock said that, overall, there was a better slate of films scheduled for this year and that cinema would continue to be an affordable treat despite the pressure on consumers.