(Repeats from Monday)
* Reopening weekend box office 7 mln stg- UK Cinema
* Cineworld says performance better than expectations
* Odeon sold more than 300,000 tickets since reopening last
May 24 (Reuters) - Sony's animated comedy "Peter Rabbit 2"
drove UK cinemas' box office takings in their reopening weekend
to the highest since the pandemic took hold last year, giving a
boost to cinema chains which had been burning through cash
during months of lockdowns.
Overall box office collections at the weekend came in at
more than 7 million pounds ($9.91 million), with the speed and
size of the return beyond anything most companies were
expecting, UK Cinema Association CEO Phil Clapp told Reuters on
That compares with a box office of 16.6 million pounds for
the whole of May 2019, before the crisis. Box office revenue
slumped by 76% year-on-year to 297 million pounds in 2020, the
lowest on record in modern times, the cinema trade body said.
Cineworld, the world's second-largest cinema
operator after AMC, said trading had topped its
expectations, encouraging it to forecast a strong performance
next week too, when Disney's "Cruella" and Paramount
thriller "A Quiet Place 2" are set to be released.
Shares in Cineworld, the only UK-listed cinema chain, were
up more than 3%.
London-based Odeon Cinemas, owned by AMC, said it had sold
more than 300,000 tickets since the reopening last week, its
busiest week in more than a year and more than double the
attendance of any weekend between July and November last year.
The UK relaxed coronavirus restrictions last summer, but had to
reimpose them in the autumn.
Nearly two-thirds of the crowd came in to watch "Peter
Rabbit 2," Odeon said.
A successful vaccination drive has allowed the UK to ease
restrictions over the past few months, with the next phase set
"Cinema operators have been waiting for this moment for a
long time, keeping their fingers crossed that consumers would
feel confident enough to return to the big screen," analysts at
broker AJ Bell said. "It looks like people have missed the
experience and we've just had a bumper weekend for cinema
But there are question marks over whether this weekend's box
office takings are a sign of a long-term revival for cinema that
has been among the worst hit within the entertainment industry.
The pandemic has also accelerated a shift to online
streaming, with all but a handful of big-budget movies released
on Netflix or other streaming platforms, showing how
studios have mostly opted to stream films rather than hold off
for a movie theatre debut at a later date.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SUN IS OUT?
There has also been speculation that the gap between when a
movie is made available online after its release in theatres has
been shortened by the health crisis.
Cineworld, for example, has a deal with Warner Bros to
screen the studio's movies in its U.S. cinemas with 45 days
exclusivity, beginning next year. That was half the traditional
90-day exclusivity window.
AJ Bell analysts said the bad weather in Britain at the
weekend could have also played a role in getting people into
cinemas. They said Britons might prefer to be outdoors when the
sun is out.
The analysts also highlighted that there are not that many
big films lined up for release until later in the summer.
"This suggests Cineworld will still have to keep its fingers
crossed that the past weekend's trading boost wasn't a one-off."
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman)