Spectre of Christmas present fuels Cineworld box office receipts
Cineworld said box office receipts from James Bond blockbuster Spectre have boosted the cinema chain as it approaches the end of its year.
It said Spectre, which has taken over 500 million US dollars (£331 million) worldwide, saw the chain begin its fourth quarter "strongly", helping it to lift group box office sales by 10.8% for the 46 weeks to November 19 compared to a year ago.
The firm, which runs 216 cinemas across the UK, Ireland, Israel and Eastern Europe, said total revenues lifted in the period by 11.9% as higher admissions raised retail sales.
The chain said box office takings in the key UK and Ireland market lifted 10.1% in the period.
It added that two major releases are slated before the end of the year: Hunger Games title Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The firm, led by chief executive Mooky Greidinger, said it "remains confident of delivering a performance for the year as a whole in line with current market expectations".
It said during the second half of the year it opened cinemas in Solihull, Newport and Whiteley with a total of 28 screens.
It also open four cinemas across Poland, Romania and Israel in the period, adding 15 screens.
The chain said it plans to open three more cinemas in the UK before the end of the year - in Hinkley, Stoke-on-Trent and Crouch End - adding a further 19 screens.
The business, which was founded in 1995 floated in London in 2007, said this year it will have opened a record 19 cinemas with 160 screens. It added that by the end of the year the group will operate over 2,000 screens.
Analysts at Peel Hunt said: "Cineworld is making solid progress but quite understandably thoughts are turning to 2016.
"We believe the story is far from over and, whilst next year's box office might struggle to match 2015, the growth in the estate together with pricing potential together with the development of the overall offering suggests there is more to come."
The broker forecasts Cineworld will boost annual adjusted pre-tax profit this year by 26.6% to £95 million, compared to 12 months ago.
Meanwhile, rival chain Odeon & UCI Group said its total revenues lifted 12.9% to £159.4 million in the three months to the end of September, boosted by family blockbusters such as Minions and Inside Out.
The chain, which runs 240 cinemas and 2,223 screens in the UK and Europe, said it saw strong growth in Spain and Italy, where audiences were up by 15% and 17% respectively, offsetting more modest growth in the UK, Ireland and Germany.
Chief executive Paul Donovan said: "The response of our guests to these and other blockbuster films, combined with the actions we are taking to make our business more flexible and responsive to our guests, leave us confident about our longer term growth prospects."