Kinepolis, UGC admissions fall

Germany, U.K. tix drop an average of 10%-15%

BRUSSELS — International exhibition giant Kinepolis saw admissions fall by 5.5% in the first four months of 2003, compared with the same period a year ago.

It was in the company’s home market of Belgium that decline was most pronounced, reaching 10.6%. The cinema chain blamed this on good weather, which encouraged auds to stay away from movie theaters.

Smaller rival UGC fared better, with ticket sales falling by 3.9% in the same period.

French admissions also fell, by 5.7%, but numbers were up in Italy, Poland, Spain and Switzerland, softening the blow. Improvements meant that Kinepolis’ results looked better than those in Belgium, France, Germany and the U.K. taken as a whole, where total admissions fell by an average of 10%-15%.

Kinepolis said the fall meant it would make a loss in the first half of the year. However, it still expects to break even for the whole year and is getting a shot in the arm from “The Matrix Reloaded,” released Friday.

Separately the company said it had agreed to sell its 55% interest in Italian exhibitor Cinecity, which operates Cinecity Treviso. Deal takes exhib out of Italy altogether.

Kinepolis, which is also planning to sell its Swiss complex in Schaffhausen and its Poznan site in Poland, said deal would cut debt by €7 million ($8.16 million). Exhib, which finished 2002 with revenues of $241 million and net loss of $6.6 million, will focus on core markets of Belgium, France and Spain.

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