'Skyfall' Boosts Cineworld's Financials

The second-largest U.K. exhibitor reports higher preliminary box office and total revenue for the latest year.

LONDON – James Bond saved the day for U.K. exhibition chain Cineworld Group.

The U.K.’s second-largest exhibitor said Tuesday that its preliminary box office and total revenue rose slightly for the year ended Dec. 27.

The stronger results come on the back of a strong fourth quarter, with Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as 007, boosting admissions and box office after a sluggish third quarter hit by the London Summer Olympics and a drop in the number of 3D theatrical releases. That had caused the movie theater chain to issue a downbeat financial update in November.

But issuing its preliminary results for 2012, the exhibition giant noted the year ended well with the record-breaking 23rd Bond film pulling in big audiences after its release in October.

In a preliminary year end results statement, Cineworld said it expects total revenue to end up 2.4 percent for the latest fiscal year. Box office revenue rose 3.9 percent, while retail revenue rose 0.8 percent, the company said.

Cineworld said the U.K. and Ireland cinema industry "enjoyed a satisfactory year in 2012" and predicted full-year profits in line with market expectations.

"Despite the distractions from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the European Football [soccer] Championship and the London Olympics, industry gross box office grew by 2.8 percent against the previous year," the company said.

Aside from Skyfall, which to date has grossed over $160 million (£100 million) in the U.K. and is the highest-grossing film in the history of U.K. and Ireland cinema, other films contributing in the final quarter included the final Twilight series film Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hobbit.

Cineworld's box office benefitted from a better average ticket price, up 5 percent over the year-ago period, which countered a 1.1 percent decline in admissions. The company said it maintained an overall box office market share in the U.K./Ireland of 24.7 percent for the year.

Cineworld also told the market that spend per person for the year increased by 1.9 percent compared with the previous year, "more than offsetting reduced admissions volume."

But a decline in other income for the year was due to the removal of a booking fee and comparatively lower 3D glasses sales, resulting from fewer 3D films shown in the period. Screen advertising revenues were marginally ahead of the prior year.

Cineworld plans to open a seven-screen theater complex in the fall this year and also will begin trading this year after snapping up arthouse movie theater group chain Picturehouse Cinemas in December last year.

It will start 2013 with 101 cinemas and 878 screens and cited the rollout of Les Miserables, Star Trek, Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit part 2 in 2013 as reasons to be confident.

Cineworld had posted total revenue of $559 million and operating cash flow of $102 million for the year ended Dec. 2011.