Cineworld enjoyed a “strong opening weekend” in the UK as film fans rushed back to cinemas, led by demand for Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.
The chain said more people than expected returned as lockdown eased and it now anticipates “a good recovery in attendance over the coming months”.
It also saw “good concession income” as families snapped up popcorn to accompany their viewing.
The UK-owned chain has seen huge losses due to closures during the pandemic.
In November the business, which owns cinemas across Europe and the US, was even in talks over a rescue deal that would have meant shutting UK sites.
On Monday, it said it was “thrilled” to have its UK and and US cinemas open again.
“We are especially pleased with the warm welcome our employees have received, and the positive feedback from returning guests,” said chief executive Mooky Greidinger.
The world’s second-largest cinema chain said more than 97% of its US cinemas had now reopened, while most of its screens in the rest of the world were expected to be open by the end of the month.
The chain hopes that crowds will keep coming with the releases next week of Cruella, and A Quiet Place 2 next weekend.
It said its success was down to “improving consumer confidence and the success of the vaccination rollout”.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “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.
But he pointed out the “strong weekend” came as atrocious weather hit many parts of the UK. “What happens if we finally get some good weather this weekend and from then on?”
He warned that cinemas rely for success on the quality of the films available “and there aren’t that many big films lined up for release until later in the summer”.
Film releases delayed
The cinema industry has been one of the worst hit sectors during the pandemic with many theatres closed for extended periods or operating at reduced capacity.
Global box office takings in 2020 fell by more than 70% from the previous year to $12.4bn, according film technology firm Gower Street Analytics.
Major releases such as the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, have been delayed a number of times because of Covid.
The much-anticipated sci-fi movie Dune, starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, was originally slated to be released in December 2020, but is now set to premiere in October 2021.
News Source: BBC News