UK moviegoers distracted by summer of sport

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2012 11:30 AM
UK moviegoers distracted by summer of sport

By Monika Shinghal

(Reuters) - British movie theatres are in for a quiet summer with the Euro football championships keeping soccer fans glued to their TVs and some film releases timed to avoid a clash with the London Olympics.

Cineworld Group Plc, one of the largest in the sector, flagged both events in a trading statement on Wednesday. It said release dates for big-budget offerings including the latest Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" have been timed to avoid the games fortnight, which begins July 27.

"This attractive line up of film releases has been scheduled to take into account the timing of the Olympics," the company said in a statement.

Cineworld, which currently operates 79 sites, has films like "The Dictator", "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Men in Black 3" in 3D scheduled to be released in the remainder of the first half and noted that these would have to compete with the forthcoming European football championships.

Later UK release dates have been deliberately set either before or after the Olympics, the company said.

"The Amazing Spiderman" is due for release on July 3, "Ice Age 4" on July 13, and "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20 -- all well before the Olympics opening ceremony.

The latest James Bond film "Skyfall" and "The Hobbit" will not come until later, on October 26 and December 14 respectively.

The two sporting events are among the most watched in the world. Polling group Nielsen estimated that 4.7 billion people watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics on television, making them the most watched games ever, and reports said the opening ceremony drew in more than half the available UK audience.

Cineworld, the UK's only listed cinema chain, said that despite these distractions it was confident its growth for the full year would match current market estimates.

Box office revenue in the 19 weeks to May 10 rose 8.6 percent as admissions went up by 3.3 percent and average ticket price rose 5 percent. Retail revenue rose 3.9 percent. revenue from other sources fell 10.1 percent.

(Reporting by Monika Shinghal in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Andrew Callus)