Vampire conclusion ‘can lift Cineworld’

Breaking Dawn Part 2 is released in UK cinemas on Friday. Picture: PA
Breaking Dawn Part 2 is released in UK cinemas on Friday. Picture: PA
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Cinema operator Cineworld has pinned its hopes of improving its performance on the concluding part of the Twilight vampire romance series, which hits screens on Friday, after suffering a 4 per cent drop in summer admissions.

The group is also banking on the latest instalment in the James Bond film, Skyfall, to put behind a lacklustre third quarter, which saw attendance dip because of the London Olympics and a lack of major releases.

Cineworld, which operates about 80 cinemas across the UK, said total revenues dipped 1.4 per cent in the 19 weeks to 8 November as a 4 per cent rise in average ticket prices was offset by the decline in the number of people going to the movies.

In a trading update, the firm said income had also been hit by the scrapping of booking fees and fewer 3D film releases, which led to a fall in sales of 3D glasses.

However, Skyfall grossed more than £60 million nationwide in its first two weeks of release, and the group is now gearing up for the release on Friday of Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final film in the Twilight saga that stars Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart.

Based on Stephenie Meyer’s novels about a young girl’s torn affections between a vampire and a werewolf, the series has grossed more than £1.5 billion at the global box office to date.

Film-goers are also looking forward to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is set to hit the screens on 14 December. Director Peter Jackson, who also adapted the works of JRR Tolkien to create the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, had originally planned to make just two Hobbit films, but in July he announced he would press ahead with a third instalment.

Cineworld chief financial officer Philip Bowcock said the company had high hopes for the forthcoming Hobbit and Twilight films, adding: “The film line-up for the remainder of the fourth quarter is promising, with strong box office performances anticipated from the key titles.

“We therefore expect our results to be in line with current market expectations for the full year.”

Analysts at Numis Securities are forecasting pre-tax profits of £39.7m for the current financial year, up from £33.4m in 2011.

Sanjay Vidyarthi, analyst at Espirito Santo, said 2012 had been a tough year for cinema operators as the Olympics played havoc with release schedules, but he described Cineworld’s update as a “decent result” given the fact that admissions across the market were down 19.6 per cent in August and 17.8 per cent in September

He added: “The release schedule for the rest of the year is strong and the company is not changing its guidance at this stage, though Cineworld will still need to work hard to meet full-year market expectations.

“We are broadly in line with consensus on pre-tax profits of £39.7m and would not expect any material changes to consensus expectations at this stage.”