Profits drop for U.K.’s Odeon chain

Exhib reports 50% plunge, Jedi helping recovery

LONDON — The Odeon cinema circuit suffered a 50% drop in operating profit in the first half of the year, reflecting the U.K. box office slump.

Odeon’s sales fell by 1.5% in the period, although the launch of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” in July is already starting to restore some luster to the chain’s figures.

Odeon’s poor performance was a major factor in a weak half-year for its parent Rank Group. Rank posted a 1.5% rise in profits to $87 million.

The group also took a one-time charge of $72 million against the opening costs of the Universal Studios Escape in Florida, in which Rank is a 50% partner.

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