Cineworld rides high on 'Slumdog'

Reports first half revenue up 16.5%

British cinema chain Cineworld said on Wednesday it saw a healthy trading in the first-half of the year boosted by a string of blockbusters and expected the rest of the year to be promising.

"The outlook for the remainder of the year is promising thanks to an exciting line up of films such as 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince' as well an increasing number of 3D releases including 'Ice Age 3,' 'Up,' and 'Toy Story'," the company said in a statement.

Cineworld sees total estimated revenue up 16.5%, or up 12.2% on a proforma basis, for the 27 weeks ending July 2, driven by the success of British multi-Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire," and other films such as "Star Trek," "Transformers" and "X-Men."

"Slumdog Millionaire" grossed more than £31 million ($51 million) in the U.K. and Ireland and was an unexpected success, it said.

There were more high-grossing films in the first half of the year than in the comparable period in 2008, it said.

Boxoffice takings are expected to rise 22.5%, or up 17.9% on a proforma basis, in the first half.

"Whilst trading in our core business is ahead of expectations, resulting in strong growth in total revenues, this has been offset in part by cost pressures, such as increased utility prices," Cineworld said.

Cineworld said other income was below last year levels, partly due to the softening in advertising demand.

Shares of the company closed at 142.75 pence on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.
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