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Cineworld pins its hopes on Avengers and Toy Story 4 after slow start to 2019

Fewer blockbuster releases means people haven’t been flocking to the cinemas, but the film slate is much stronger for the second half of the year, which gives Cineworld confidence
toy story 4
Cinemagoers were spoiled for choice in the opening few months of 2018

Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) has reported a sharp drop in sales so far this year amid fewer releases of big Hollywood blockbusters.

But the cinema giant has repeated its guidance for the year given the slew of big-name releases due over the coming months.

After initially opening higher, Cineworld shares were down 1.2% to 295.5p in early afternoon trading.

READ: Regal proving to be a box office smash as Cineworld profits double

The FTSE 250 group, which operates almost 800 cinemas in the UK, Europe and the US, posted a 9.4% fall in total revenue between 1 January and 12 May.

The US and the UK suffered particularly badly, with both of those regions seeing a double-digit plunge in sales.

The smaller rest of the world division fared better, enjoying a 6.6% rise in overall revenue.

Big releases due later this year

Cineworld bosses blamed the weak start to the year on fewer big-budget films. In the same period of last year, the company benefitted from a string of huge movie releases, including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, as well as the carryover of the latest Star Wars film.

This year’s slate has been less exciting so far, although Cineworld remains confident in meeting the market’s full-year expectations.

That’s in large part thanks to the new Avengers movie, Avengers: Endgame, which helped the chain to enjoy a “record performance” over the past three weeks since it was released.

On top of that, several other big films are due to hit screens over the next couple of months, including Toy Story 4, X-Men: Dark Phoenix and the new Men In Black.

Boss not surprised by slow start

“The relatively slow start to the year in the first four months has come as no surprise as the comparative period in 2018 was extremely strong; Avengers Endgame was always set to be the beginning of real strength in this year's slate,” said group chief executive Mooky Greidinger.

“The record breaking results of this latest Avengers movie prove the undisputed power of the theatrical business and its popularity around the globe.”

He added: “We are confident that the strong film release line up in the balance of the year, which includes highly commercial titles, such as "Lion King", "Frozen 2", and the most anticipated movie of them all "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" will enable us to achieve results which meet our expectations for the full year.”

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