Image: David James / © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..
Image: David James / © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..
The return of James Bond and Star Wars to the big screen has been credited with helping to grow profits at Cineworld.

In the year ending 31 December 2015 the firm booked revenue of £705.8m with pre-tax profits standing at £99.7m. Both sets of figures were up on the previous year when revenue was £619.4m, of which £67.3m was profit.

According to Cineworld’s end of year trading statement the improved figures were driven by a mix of new site openings and a strong slate of ‘must-see’ blockbuster movies, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens which drew record audiences when released in December.

The film was one of the most eagerly anticipated of the decade and saw Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprise their roles of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in an adventure which also introduced fans to a new generation of heroes and villains.

Other highlights of the year included Spectre, Daniel Craig’s fourth and possibly final appearance as 007, and Jurassic World which saw Chris Pratt tangle with dinosaurs in the sequel to Stephen Spielberg’s classic trilogy.

Cineworld was especially well-placed to capitalise on fans’ desire to enjoy a bumper year for film thanks to its presence in nine countries.

In addition to its UK and Irish operations the firm operates in Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Israel and last year opened 18 new sites, including ten here in the UK.

The group, which boasts of being “either the number one or two operator” in each of its markets, also opened three new IMAX screens to take the total number to 28.

2015 also saw the Cineworld Unlimited card, which allows fans to see as many films as they like in return for a single monthly fee, introduced to Poland.

The trading update says the card now has a “strong” base in the UK where customers also receive deals on drinks and snacks as well as discounts from third-party partners such as Pizza Hut.

Expansion plans for 2016 include a the opening of an additional 6 sites and 39 screens in the UK, followed by a further 7 screens in both 2017 and 2018. These will contribute to a total of 45 new site openings across the nine markets over the next three years.

Announcing the results earlier this month, CEO Mooky Greidinger said: “We are pleased to announce 2015 was another record year for the Cineworld Group and its shareholders. Revenues continued to grow as more than 93 million customers came through our doors and enjoyed the movies we showed.

“In addition, we opened a record number of 18 new sites during 2015. The film slate was strong with a number of blockbusters– Jurassic World, Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens being the most significant.”

This article was sponsored by Cineworld.