Cineworld’s UK reopening success driven by Peter Rabbit 2 | Cineworld

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Cineworld enjoyed a strong opening weekend in the UK that went “beyond” expectations, as film lovers flocked to the big screen following a loosening of Covid-19 restrictions across the UK.

The UK’s biggest cinema chain said the success was driven by the release of Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, and appetite for popcorn that led to strong sales at concession stands. Moviegoers also bought tickets to see Godzilla vs Kong, which was previously released online but had not yet graced the big screen.

It follows the reopening of Cineworld’s 127 UK sites, which have been shut since 8 October, when the country was grappling with its second wave of Covid-19 cases.

“This weekend’s performance went beyond our expectations as customers were eager to return to the movies and enjoy the full movie experience,” the company said on Monday.

In the US, about 502 cinemas – or 97% of Cineworld’s local network – have reopened. Across the rest of the world, its cinemas in Poland and Israel will open their doors at the end of the week, meaning that most of Cineworld’s 727 global sites will be operating by the end of the month.

It comes just in time to screen Disney’s Cruella, starring Emma Stone, and the horror film A Quiet Place Part II.

“We are thrilled to have our cinemas back in business in the US and UK and to welcome movie fans back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films,” the Cineworld chief executive, Mooky Greidinger, said. “When combined with improving consumer confidence and the success of the vaccination rollout, we expect a good recovery in attendance over the coming months, noting the record breaking success of F9 in the Asian market.”

Like most retail and leisure chains, Cineworld’s finances have been hit hard by Covid restrictions on meeting in groups and indoors. The company reported a record $3bn (£2.2bn) loss for 2020, when revenues tumbled 80% from $4.3bn pre-pandemic to $852m last year.

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Despite the poor results, Cineworld executives have pushed through a new scheme in which bosses could be awarded more than £200m in shares if the company’s stock bounces back to pre-pandemic levels. Almost 30% of shareholders failed to back the controversial pay plan, which could result in Greidinger, and his brother and deputy Israel, receiving awards worth £33m each.

That is despite having secured more than $1bn in financial lifelines to weather the pandemic. The group also confirmed on Monday that it had received a $203m tax refund under the US Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act.

Cineworld’s shares, which are down 50% from their pre-pandemic level of 181p, rose 4% to 90p in morning trading, making the company the FTSE 250’s biggest riser.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Cineworld’s UK reopening success driven by Peter Rabbit 2 | Cineworld

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