Cineworld finds happy ending in poor year

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Multiplex chain Cineworld has hailed a “creditable” box office performance after overcoming a barren year for the release of blockbuster films.

The group, which has more than 100 sites under the Cineworld and Picturehouse brands, said its box office market share rose by one percentage point to 27.4 per cent as admissions lifted 1.4 per cent last year. Adjusted profits improved by 10.4 per cent to £44.7m.

In contrast to the previous year when there were three blockbuster films, including the record-breaking Skyfall, 2013 was short of major hits.

The year was underpinned by the success of Despicable Me 2 and Les Miserables, which both grossed nationally in excess of £40m.

Cineworld said the first quarter of the current financial year has started in line with expectations with films including The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years a Slave performing strongly at the box office.

Cineworld recently struck a merger deal with Cinema City to create a company with 201 outlets and 1,852 screens across Europe, placing it second to the continent’s largest operator Odeon UCI.

Cost in relation to the deal contributed to a fall in Cineworld’s bottom-line profits of 19.3 per cent to £30.9m last year.

Including a full-year’s ownership of Picturehouse, box office revenues were 10.8 per cent higher at £279.9m, which chairman Anthony Bloom said was a “particularly creditable performance” given the overall decline in UK and Ireland total box office revenues of 0.3 per cent.