Booming US market breaks box office records for Cineworld but UK sales slip

Sebastian McCarthy
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Premiere Of Disney And Marvel's 'Black Panther' - Red Carpet
Cineworld hit record visits in 2018 as movies such as Black Panther attracted more cinemagoers (Source: Getty)

Cineworld shares slumped five per cent in morning trading, as the world’s second largest cinema chain revealed flattened UK sales despite the success of films such as Black Panther breaking box office records.

A record 308m people visited the cinemas during 2018, the chain said.

Meanwhile, like-for-like revenue jumped 6.2 per cent year-on-year in the 12 months to the end of 2018, buoyed by US growth of 8.6 per cent.

However, UK & Ireland revenue fell by 0.6 per cent on a constant currency basis.

The firm said it was on track to deliver its performance in-line with expectations and confident of another year of growth in 2019.

During 2018 the group continued to expand and opened 13 new sites, with six in the US, six in the UK and one in Romania.

Despite a standout performance from the company’s US arm, which now accounts for 70 per cent of its revenue, sales in the rest of the world stalled.

In the UK revenue dipped 0.6 per cent, with a World Cup run and prolonged summer weather keeping consumers away from the big screen.

Cinemworld’s share price dropped five per cent to 262p in mid-morning trading.

The results come after a busy year for the London-listed firm, which bought US rival Regal Entertainment in early 2018 in a deal that has created one of the world’s largest cinema chains.

Read more: Cineworld buys Regal Entertainment

Ed Monk, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service said, said: “In the UK, 2018 was disrupted by a long, hot summer and an attention-stealing World Cup run for England. Top-performing films included Avengers: Infinity War, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Incredibles 2, but it was a tough year-on -year comparison given 2017 included a Star Wars.”