Cineworld confident over demand amid fears of coronavirus box office hit

By Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor

Cineworld said coronavirus has not yet dampened demand as it sought to calm fears after the release of the new James Bond film was delayed due to the outbreak.

But shares in the cinema chain fell another 7% despite assurances that it has not seen any significant impact on bookings yet and continues to see good admission figures across all its markets.

It comes amid worries that cinema firms would suffer plummeting demand as coronavirus continues to spread, highlighted by the decision earlier this week to postpone the release of the No Time To Die Bond movie from April to November as cinemas across Asia have closed.

Some film industry analysts have reportedly estimated the outbreak could wipe 5 billion US dollars (£3.9 billion) off the global box office.

But Cineworld said studios have insisted they remain committed to their film schedules for the rest of the year.

It warned, however, that there can be “no certainty as to the future impact of Covid-19”.

“Should conditions relating to Covid-19 continue or worsen, we have measures at our disposal to reduce the impact on our business including, but not limited to, capex (capital expenditure) postponement and cost reduction,” it added.

It also revealed a dip in earnings in figures released ahead of its full-year results due next week, reporting a 4% drop in underlying earnings to 1.03 billion US dollars (£794 million).

This came as it said 2019 revenues fell 7% to 4.4 billion US dollars (£3.4 billion).