Teuton gain for Oz exhib

Cinestar circuit revs up 44%

SYDNEY — Australian exhib Greater Union is starting to see blue sky from its investment in Germany, a tough market for most cinema operators.

B.O. revenues at the Cinestar circuit, a co-venture between Teutonic firm Kieft & Kieft and Greater Union’s parent Amalgamated Holdings, shot up by 44% in the half year ended Dec. 31.

The average cinemagoing rate in Germany grew to 2.2 visits per person per year from a stagnant 1.8. After years of overbuilding, the number of screens nationwide remained steady as traditional sites closed and Cinestar’s cash-starved competitors didn’t add screens.

“The growth in admissions together with pricing and cost-control initiatives generated strong earnings growth in the period,” Amalgamated managing director David Seargeant said.

Cinestar is on the verge of completing its expansion program and will have 407 screens by the end of this month.

A strong turnaround in its exhib businesses in its home market and Germany helped Amalgamated record a 67% leap in net profit for the half-year to $A17.5 million ($9.1 million).

B.O. revenues at the 457 Oz screens operated by Greater Union improved by 28%. Film lab Atlab saw a 55% lift in pre-tax earnings.

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