EMPIRE, the the largest independently-owned cinema chain in the UK, yesterday hailed a “record-breaking year” after growing its box-offices takings ahead of the rate for the UK.
Film fans spent more than £1.1 billion on tickets in 2011, according to figures from media analysis firm Rentrak, a rise of 5 per cent on the previous year.
Ahead of releasing its full-year accounts, Empire, whose ultimate beneficial owner is the Irish entrepreneur Thomas Anderson, said that its box office takings had grown by 6 per cent.
Cinema admissions for the UK industry as a whole grew by 1.4 per cent to 171.5 million people last year, with Empire posting a 10.4 per cent rise.
Justin Ribbons, chief executive at Empire, said: “We had a great 2011, as did the cinema industry as a whole, which, in current economic times, is a very positive sign.”
Empire said it had introduced bigger screens and better sound systems to bring in bigger audiences for blockbuster films.
The cinema chain also highlighted the growth in 3D films, with 48 titles released in 2011, accounting for about one-fifth of UK box office takings.
Big releases last year included Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Inbetweeners Movie and The King’s Speech.
The fortunes of the UK film industry contrast sharply with those in the United States, where revenues fell 3 per cent in 2011.
Empire was created in 2005, buying outlets being sold as part of the merger of Odeon and UCI and the link-up between Cineworld and UGC. The chain – which takes its name from its flagship branch in London’s Leicester Square – has 16 cinemas, including a site in Clydebank.