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Kinepolis sees drop in auds

July ticket sales down for exhib

BRUSSELS — Most people are grateful for a spell of good weather, but not cinema operators. In Belgium, it’s been keeping auds out of theaters.

International cinema chain Kinepolis, for example, has revealed that ticket sales in Belgium dipped 20% in July this year compared to 2002. The month saw sales of 860,913 tickets, down from 1,070,269 in the prior year.

Total July ticket sales accounting for plexes in Belgium, France, Poland, Spain and Switzerland, fell 8.1% from 2002 levels, dropping to 11,156,966.

Kinepolis is forecasting a loss for the first half of 2003 but still expects to break even over the whole year. The company’s share price has been recovering after an alarming drop to 7 euros ($7.56) in March, but is still far from the height of 130 euros ($148) it reached in early 1999.

Kinepolis is still suffering from its disastrous acquisition of German chain CinemaxX in 1999, which pushed it way into the red. It is now selling off movie houses in a bid to concentrate on its core markets of Belgium, France and Spain and is currently in negotiations over the sale of its Polish plex in the city of Poznan. Exhib has a 68.1% stake in the operation, with Belgian VC Deficom holding the rest.