Can the Hobbit help save Cineworld?

Cineworld is pinning its hopes on new releases including the next episode in The Hobbit franchise

Cineworld is pinning its hopes on new releases including the next episode in The Hobbit franchise

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

CINEMA chain Cineworld is pinning its hopes on a raft of blockbusters to improve its performance this year after box office takings were dented by the World Cup.

The chain reported a 3.4 per cent decline in UK and Ireland admissions for the first half of the year which, though offset by higher prices, saw ticket revenues fall by 0.5 per cent.

It was also hit by signs that the popularity of 3D screenings appear to be fading, with these representing 16.3% of admissions in the first half compared to 18.7 per cent in the same period last year.

Cineworld said the final stages of the World Cup had also hampered trading at the start of the current period.

But it said there was a strong film line-up for the second half, including Guardians of the Galaxy, and the latest instalments of the Hunger Games and Hobbit franchises.

Chief executive Moshe Greidinger said: "Overall, the strength of the film line-up in the second half, coupled with our solid first half performance, gives us confidence and we are on track with our plans for the year."

UK and Ireland total revenues, which included better retail takings from food and drink concessions, grew 0.3 per cent in the period.

The figures are the first half-year results since Cineworld completed a takeover of Cinema City, an Israeli-founded chain, earlier this year. It created a company with 200 outlets and nearly 2,000 screens across Europe and Israel.

Pre-tax profits fell 15.8 per cent to £13.9m after one-off hits including takeover expenses and finance charges though on an adjusted basis they improved by 46.2 per cent. Group revenues climbed 33.2 per cent to £268.6m.

Mr Greidinger, who has taken over as boss after previously being chief executive of Cinema City, said the group expected to achieve annual savings of £5 million as a result of the merger within the next three years.

The chief executive's family now controls a chunk of the business through Warsaw-listed Global City Holdings, which has a 26.1 per cent stake in Cineworld.

Global City is majority-owned by Israel-based IT International Theatres, controlled by the Greidinger family.

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