Cineworld is bullish over 3D films as World Cup hits sales

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The Independent Online

Cineworld, the second-biggest cinema chain in the UK, struck an upbeat note on a "promising" line-up of 3D films over the summer, including Toy Story 3, as it admitted that the World Cup had left it with empty seats in recent weeks.

The group posted a 3.7 per cent rise in total revenues for the half year to 1 July, boosted by "strong" box-office films in the first quarter, in particular Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, as well as Iron Man 2 and Sex and the City 2.

But the impact of the World Cup was shown by total revenue growth of 13.9 per cent over the first 18 weeks until the football tournament slowed them markedly over the final eight weeks. Retail revenues, which are largely popcorn, ice cream and drinks, fell by 3.8 per cent over the 26 weeks, as customers reined in their spending.

Cineworld, which has 78 cinemas in the UK and Republic of Ireland, said that 4.1 per cent growth sales of cinema tickets over the half year helped it to grow its share of the box-office market by 0.8 per cent to 24.3 per cent, according to Nielsen EDI.

The growing allure of 3D was evident in a 31 per cent jump in Cineworld's "other revenues". While the bulk of this comes from screen advertising, which was flat, it also includes ticket booking fees, screen hire and the sale of 3D glasses.

Cineworld was bullish about the "significant" number of movies to be screened in 3D in the second half, which will coincide with the school holidays in the UK.

Its third quarter will open with Shrek Forever After, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and Toy Story 3, which delivered a record opening weekend for an animation film in the US. These will be followed later in the year by Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows 1 and Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In June, Cineworld unveiled a partnership with Arts Alliance Media to complete the roll-out of digital projection facilities across the remainder of its cinemas in the UK and Ireland. The company said this will "enable the group to capitalise further on the significant line-up for 3D films".