U.K. Exhibitor Cineworld Posts Higher 2012 Profit

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LONDON -- U.K. movie theater giant Cineworld Group on Thursday posted improved financials for full-year 2012 despite a small admissions decline.

The second-largest movie theater operator in Britain reported a 1 percent fall in admissions to 47.8 million during the year ending Dec. 27, but an average ticket price increase of 5 percent to $7.94 (£5.26) boosted overall box-office revenue and helped its bottom line.

Cineworld reported full-year revenue growth of 3.1 percent to $541.5 million (£358.7 million), driven by a 3.9 percent increase in box-office receipts to $379.8 million (£251.6 million). Operating profit rose 15.3 percent to $58.1 million.

The box-office gain came thanks to more than two months of record-breaking business for Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond. The film grossed in excess of $150 million in the U.K., boosting Cineworld's numbers. Other big releases included The Dark Knight Rises and Marvel's Avengers Assemble.

"It has been a busy year for us: We completed the conversion of our projection estate to digital, opened a new seven-screen cinema in Aldershot and expanded the Imax screen concept to eight cinemas," said Cineworld CEO Stephen Wiener. "The culmination of the year's activity was the acquisition of Picturehouse, an exciting, complementary brand, which operates in a separate market to Cineworld's cinemas and brings further growth opportunities to the group."

Wiener described 2013's release schedule as "attractive" and also noted that without the Summer Olympics and a major international soccer tournament "there is little in the way of major events to distract cinemagoers."

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