* Cineworld shares up 4% in early trade
* Co expects good recovery in attendance over coming months
May 24 (Reuters) - Cineworld said on Monday its UK
reopening weekend had topped expectations as animated comedy
"Peter Rabbit 2" drew crowds after months of lockdown, in a
promising sign for the cinema industry ahead of the release of
The world's second-largest cinema chain, which operates the
Regal Cinemas brand, said more than 97% of its U.S. cinemas had
resumed operations, while most of its screens in the rest of the
world were expected to reopen by the end of the month.
Shares in the only UK-listed cinema operator rose 3% to 89.4
pence, among top gainers on the mid-cap index by 0813 GMT.
The strong weekend is an encouraging sign for Cineworld,
which in March sunk to its first-ever loss as the pandemic
closed cinemas and disrupted movie releases across the world.
The UK, which went into a third national lockdown in January
this year, has been gradually easing restrictions thanks to a
successful vaccination drive, with cinemas now able to operate
at 50% capacity.
"With improving consumer confidence and the success of the
vaccination rollout, we expect a good recovery in attendance
over the coming months," Cineworld Chief Executive Mooky
UP NEXT: "CRUELLA" AND "A QUIET PLACE 2"
Nearly half of U.S. adults have received a first dose of a
COVID-19 vaccination, and around three quarters of the UK
Greidinger said he expected a strong performance next week
too, helped by Walt Disney's "Cruella" and Paramount
thriller "A Quiet Place 2."
Hollywood studios have promised a slate of big-ticket
releases for the summer, including Marvel's "Black Widow" and
the new James Bond movie "No Time to Die," with top actors,
directors and executives previewing upcoming films in theaters.
However, the UK has warned that its plan to lift all
restrictions next month could be delayed due to a spike in
infections linked to the virus variant first found in India.
A catastrophic second wave in India has again closed
theaters in the country, which added millions of dollars to the
box office receipts of Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" and superhero
movie "Wonder Woman 1984" last year.
Cineworld, which has 9,311 screens globally, said it had
received the full $203 million tax refund under the U.S.
government's coronavirus relief program for companies.
(Reporting by Chris Peters and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing
by Ramakrishnan M., Kirsten Donovan)