Cineworld Hopes to Reap 3D Rewards

Cineworld reported a 6 per cent rise in full-year box office sales and said it remained confident its bet on the 3D film format would pay off in spite of the small number of films being distributed in the format.

Britain's biggest cinema chain after Odeon said takings from the release of Bolt in 3D last month exceeded expectations, and helped the chain of 75 cinemas to a solid start to the year. Only 13 3D films are set for distribution and not more than nine next year. The group's investment in 3D technology, for which it charges premium prices, has given it a market-leading position in the format and it said it would continue to convert cinemas to digital.

Steve Wiener, chief executive, said 3D's impact on cinema going "could be meaningful this year", although he added that 2009 would be challenging and that the prospect of new openings had been hit by the dearth of financing available to property developers.

By Roger Blitz and Pan Kwan Yuk, The Financial Times