Admissions fall but the force is set to be with Cineworld in a strong 2015

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Cineworld is eyeing a stronger year for blockbuster film releases after admissions fell 3.7 per cent at its UK and Ireland cinemas in 2014.

The group, which has more than 100 sites under the Cineworld and Picturehouse brands, made up for the decline through a 4 per cent rise in average ticket prices in the year to January 1.

Box office revenues were 0.1 per cent higher in the period but total sales lifted 1.8 per cent over the period after including food and drink and other sales.

In a full-year trading update, Cineworld highlighted a strong film release programme for 2015 including Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Star Wars: Episode VII and Jurassic World.

It now expects to achieve annual profits towards the top end of City forecasts after a strong performance in Poland, where an increase in local films and a strong line-up of popular family films resulted in admissions growth of 6.8 per cent.

Cineworld currently operates 1,880 screens across 205 sites, including in Israel and a number of countries in central Europe.

During the year the company opened two new cinemas at St Neots and Telford and is contracted to open a further 11 cinemas in the UK, including three new Picturehouse cinemas. Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram said Cineworld delivered an “impressively solid performance in what was a difficult year in general for cinema”.

He added: “This bodes well that the group can convert what looks like being a strong recovery in cinema admissions in 2015.”