Powered by a slate of major tentpoles including Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and MGM/Eon/Universal’s No Time To Die, Cineworld Group reports it generated positive cash flow for Q4 2021. The world’s second largest exhibitor, which owns Regal in the U.S., did not disclose dollar amounts, but released a trading update this morning for the six-month period ending December 31, 2021. The company will announce its full-year results on March 17.
Box office and concession revenues saw significant growth across the second half of 2021. Notably, group performance was at 50% of 2019 levels in July, increasing to 90% in October and with December reaching 88%. (November was at 56%, impacted by the release date shift of Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick which moved to May 2022.) In the U.S., Regal grew from 45% in July to 91% in December. In the UK, boosted by No Time To Die, October exceeded 2019 levels at 127% of that same month’s revenues two years prior.
Cineworld also confirmed that it served its notice of appeal of the decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the case of Cineplex Inc against Cineworld on January 12. In December, the court had ruled that Cineworld “repudiated the transaction to acquire Cineplex” and awarded the Canadian company damages for breach of contract in the amount of $1.24B Canadian ($965M).
Along with No Time To Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home, recovery in 2021 was driven by a slate that included Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Black Widow and Eternals; Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Warner Bros/Legendary’s Dune and Disney/20th Century Studios’ Free Guy.
Cineworld operates in 10 countries with 751 sites and 9,188 screens globally. In markets outside the U.S. and the UK, November and December performance was impacted by government restrictions owing to the ongoing Covid situation.
CEO Mooky Greidinger 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 unrivaled theatrical experience. We have seen recovery in theater 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. 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.”
Cineworld touted a strong 2022 slate ahead including Warner Bros/DC’s The Batman, Sony’s Morbius, Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible 7, Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion, Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise Of Gru, Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Disney/20th Century Studios’ Avatar 2.