Cineworld posts half-year profits

Exhibitor says admissions were down in first half

LONDON -- Cineworld, the U.K.'s second-largest cinema exhibition chain, has posted half-year pretax profits of 8.7 million pounds ($16.3 million), compared with a 1.1 million pound ($2.1 million) loss -- due in part to digital installation costs -- for the same period last year.

The results showed first-half revenue up 1% to 137 million pounds ($256 million) and operating profit up 19.5% to 14.1 million pounds ($26.4 million), despite admissions for the period falling 4.8% to 20.6 million, but with a ticket price increase of 6.1% to 4.34 pounds ($8.12).

"Boxoffice receipts for the U.K. and Ireland market (as reported by EDI) were flat year on year at 424 million pounds ($792.8 million) for the six-month period ended June 2008," Cineworld CEO Steve Wiener said. "Within this context, it is encouraging that we increased our own boxoffice on the same period last year."

Cineworld said that admissions were down in the first half because of a lack of hit movies, but added that the second half has started well thanks to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Sex and the City," "Mamma Mia!" and "The Dark Knight."

"The enduring appeal of film continues to be even more pronounced in times of economic uncertainty and we feel confident that the strong lineup of films in the second half will drive admissions," Wiener said.