UK: James Bond rescues Cineworld from fall in visitor numbers

JAMES Bond has come to the rescue of Cineworld, with new figures showing that the release of Skyfall helped drive a turnaround in revenues for the cinema chain last year.

Cineworld said sales were up 2.4% in the year to December 27, offsetting a 1.4% decline in the summer as film fans stayed at home to enjoy one-off events such as the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 and London Olympics.

As well as Skyfall, which has now taken �100million at the box office, vampire hit Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and The Hobbit helped narrow a decline in Cineworld admissions to 1.1%, after a 4% fall in the 19 weeks to November 8.

Average ticket prices rose by 5% in the year, with an improvement in spend per head also helping Cineworld offset the fall in the number of cinema goers.

Cineworld, which has 101 cinemas with 878 screens, said there were “attractive” releases planned this year, including Les Miserables, Star Trek, Iron Man 3 and the second part of The Hobbit.

Wayne Brown, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said the 2013 film slate played to Cineworld’s strengths, with a lower number of major blockbusters likely to drive greater admissions overall.

Cineworld said its latest acquisition, the arthouse cinema chain Picturehouse, was trading in line with expectations, and it was looking to the �47.3million deal to bring it growth in a specialised sector.

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The group also plans to open three new multiplex cinemas in Wembley, Gloucester and St Neots this year.

There were also signs that a downturn in advertising has eased with Cineworld reporting screen advertising revenues, which account for about half of its income, marginally ahead.

But fewer 3D films dented the group’s other income, with sales of 3D glasses down in the period.

Cineworld multiplex sites include Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Braintree, with the Picturehouse chain also including the Abbeygate in Bury St Edmunds, the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge and Cinema City in Norwich.