Blockbuster movies including Les Miserables helped the Cineworld Group of multiplexes achieve strong first half results which saw adjusted pre-tax profits increase 33% to£17.9m.
The group, which owns cinemas in Boldon, South Tyneside, and Middlesbrough, said box office admissions were lifted to £25.9m in the first half of 2013, compared to £23m in 2012’s first-half results, underpinned by the success of Les Miserables which grossed in excess of ï¿½94m worldwide, and a number of other good film performances including Iron Man 3, The Croods and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Overall group revenue was up 21.9%, from £165.4m to£201.6m.
Strong growth in the firm’s Unlimited subscriber base was also reported, with more than 350,000 members now signed up.
A higher proportion of ticket sales were for 3D films – 17% compared with 15% in the first half of 2012 – and the group had more IMAX screens in operation, which command a premium price.
During the second half of 2013, Cineworld Cinemas is scheduled to open a new nine-screen cinema at the Wembley development, a 10-screen replacement cinema in Gloucester and launch the existing IMAX cinema at the Glasgow Science Centre as a Cineworld cinema. Due to delays in construction, the new six-screen cinema in St Neots will now be opened in early 2014, with new cinemas near Chester, Swindon and Telford scheduled to follow later in the year.
Stephen Wiener, chief executive officer of Cineworld Group plc, said: “Our results show that cinema is a resilient investment in challenging economic times with a number of growth opportunities. We have maintained our position as the leading cinema operator in both the UK and the UK and Ireland combined.
“Since the end of the first half, we also surpassed important milestones for both our Unlimited and MyCineworld schemes, with more than 350,000 Unlimited subscribers and three million MyCineworld members.
“The current trading performance, together with a reduction in net debt since the end of 2012, means that the group remains in a sound financial position to fund continued growth. Against this backdrop, we have again increased the interim dividend to our shareholders.
“The strength of the film line up in the second half, coupled with our solid first half performance, underpins our confidence that we are on track with our plans for the full year."
It said revenues in the 26 weeks to June 27, in the core Cineworld Cinemas brand were up 10.5% while the Picturehouse chain it bought in December, including the Belmont in Aberdeen and Cameo in Edinburgh, was 12.5% ahead. Overall group revenue was up 21.9%, from£165.4m to£201.6m.
Retail revenues at the cinemas was said to be 9.7% higher with spend per person up from £1.65 to £1.72.