Bond to the rescue of Cineworld fortunes

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James Bond thriller Skyfall propelled Cineworld to higher profits yesterday in a year when growth in the 3D format continued to stall.

Cineworld’s admissions were 1 per cent lower last year at 47.8 million due to a tough summer but Skyfall’s release in October helped box office revenues rise 3.9 per cent to £251.6m, with average ticket prices per admission up 5 per cent to £5.26.

Cineworld said 3D films, which attracted an average ticket price of £6.74 compared with £4.78 for 2D, were still popular but that the number of releases in the format was static at 37 last year.

The proportion of national box office revenues generated from 3D stabilised at 22 per cent, having stood at 30 per cent in 2010 when the success of Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 boosted demand.

Cineworld said value-seeking customers and many families opted for the 2D format while more than a quarter of admissions were for Tuesday and Wednesday performances, when ticket prices are cheaper.

The company added to its estate of 80 cinemas and 818 screens in December by spending £47.3m on the acquisition of the Picturehouse chain, which has 21 cinemas focused on a more art-house audience.

As well as this deal, which is currently under review by the Office of Fair Trading, Cineworld plans to open four new cinemas under the Cineworld brand this year.

Its profits for last year rose 15.3 per cent to £38.5m and chief executive Stephen Wiener said an attractive release schedule should boost the company in 2013.