The recovery has been driven by a slate of movies including “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Venom,” “Black Widow,” “Dune,” “Free Guy,” “Eternals” and “No Time to Die,” Cineworld said in a trading update on Friday.
While actual financial numbers were not disclosed, said that July 2021 revenues were at just 50% of the same month in pre-COVID year 2019. That increased to 54% in August, 60% in September, 90% in October, 56% in November and 88% in December, 2021. November was negatively impacted by “Top Gun: Maverick” moving its release date to May 2022. December was particularly strong thanks to the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
The strongest growth rate was in the U.S., which grew from 45% of 2019 levels in July to 91% of 2019 levels in December. This was followed by the U.K. and Ireland, which climbed from 54% of 2019 levels in July to 89% of 2019 levels in December. Cineworld’s operations in the rest of the world declined from 79% to 72% of 2019 levels. Nevertheless, the group said that it generated positive cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2021.
In December 2021, a Canadian court had ordered Cineworld to pay $957 million in damages to rival group Cineplex for forsaking a planned takeover. Cineworld has confirmed that it has served a notice of appeal of the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the case of Cineplex Inc. against Cineworld on Wednesday.
Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld CEO said: “We are pleased to see continued strong demand amongst audiences for cinema experiences, supported by a slate of high-quality and high-performing movies. This demonstrates that fans are continuing to choose the unrivalled theatrical experience. We have seen recovery in theatre attendances across our geographies, which generated a positive cashflow performance for Q4. ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ has shown the importance for studios of cinematic releases.”
Cineworld talked up a strong film slate for 2022 including, “The Batman,” “Morbius,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Mission: Impossible 7,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar 2.”
“Whilst there are challenges ahead, we are excited to welcome customers to our cinemas to enjoy the highly anticipated slate of movies throughout 2022. We are continuing to implement guidelines to ensure our cinemas are a safe environment for our customers, and I want to thank everyone across our team who make it possible for our customers to experience the best place to watch a movie,” Greidinger added.
In their last financial results filed in August, Cineworld had recorded an operating loss of $209 million in its interim financial results for the six-month period ended June 30, 2021. The group’s results for the period included a period of temporary closures from January to May 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions and a limited film slate.
Cineworld is the second largest cinema exhibitor in the world with operations in 10 countries including the U.S. and the U.K. and 751 sites and 9,188 screens globally.
Cineworld will publish its 2021 full year results on March 17, 2022.