Cineworld at risk after £1.3bn loss in first half of 2020

Cineworld at Cardinal Park, Ipswich, could be at risk after the chain reported a loss of �1.3bn in t

Cineworld at Cardinal Park, Ipswich, could be at risk after the chain reported a loss of �1.3bn in the first half of 2020. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Cinemas in Suffolk could be at risk after Cineworld warned it may struggle to survive a second coronavirus lockdown.

The global chain - which runs cinemas in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill - recorded a loss of £1.3billion in the first half of 2020 and said it may need to raise extra funds.

The group posted the hefty loss for the six months to June 30 following pre-tax profits of £110million a year ago, as revenues plummeted when the lockdown forced cinemas to close.

It said it was still in talks with lenders over breathing space for upcoming banking agreements, while it warned of the potential need to boost finances again if it had to close its cinemas once more or if film releases were pushed back.

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But it said current trading has been “encouraging considering the circumstances”, with solid demand for action-thriller and spy film Tenet released earlier this month.

A spokesman for Cineworld warned: “There can be no certainty as to the future impact of Covid-19 on the group.

“If governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gatherings, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity.”

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The group said 561 of its 778 sites worldwide have reopened, with 200 cinemas in the US, six in the UK and 11 in Israel still closed.

Cineworld said if the cinemas still closed in the US do not open before the end of October or there are further delays in the forecast significant movie releases to 2021, then extra financing would be needed.

In a “severe but plausible scenario” where a second wave of the pandemic caused further lengthy cinemas closures, then it would breach banking agreements in December and June 2021 and need further financing to continue to operate from early next year, it said.

Cineworld has already raised an extra £284.1million to help it weather the crisis so far.

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Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “Despite the difficult events of the last few months, we have been delighted by the return of global audiences to our cinemas toward the end of the first half, as well as by the positive customer feedback we have received from those that have waited patiently to see a movie on the big screen again.”

He added: “Current trading has been encouraging considering the circumstances, further underpinning our belief that there remains a significant difference between watching a movie in a cinema - with high-quality screens and best-in-class sounds – to watching it at home.”

In May, Cineworld pulled out of a £1.6billion deal to buy Canada’s biggest chain Cineplex, which would have created the biggest chain of cinemas in North America.

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