World Cup is no ‘killer screen’ as Mercury biopic gives cinema box office a boost

Box office giants ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ reverse threat of Maltese cinema revenue drop from World Cup

Night at the opera or the cinema? World Cup tournaments often keep people away from the cinema, Eden Leisure says
Night at the opera or the cinema? World Cup tournaments often keep people away from the cinema, Eden Leisure says

Big football tournaments in summer generate sales for food and beverage outlets screening matches.

Yet for one entertainment business, four weeks of non-stop football in the World Cup or the European Championship hits revenues by a fifth.

Eden Leisure, the largest operator of multiplex cinemas in Malta, says it was expecting a big hit on revenues from the 2018 World Cup, yet revenues were ‘saved’ by blockbuster movies that smashed the box office.

“The FIFA World Cup in Russia during 2018 would have typically adversely affected cinema revenue by approximately 20% during the period,” Eden Leisure said in filings to the stock exchange.

“Notwithstanding, the Eden Cinemas registered a growth in gross box office receipts of 12% when compared to the prior year, with the screening of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, and others significantly boosting revenues for the year.”

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the biographical drama film about singer Freddie Mercury lead vocalist of the British rock band Queen, received four Academy Awards and won best motion picture at Golden Globes, grossing over $900 million worldwide.

Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War

Even better performing was Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, which grossed $2 billion worldwide.

Eden Cinemas is now expecting box office revenue and bar income to progressively increase with top box office screenings in FY2019 such as ‘Avengers: End Game’, ‘Toy Story 4’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’, ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘Dumbo’ attracting an ongoing positive audience.

Last year, Eden Leisure’s financial analysis summary had braced investors for a drop in revenue for its cinemas due to the World Cup.

A spokesperson for Simonds Farsons Cisk the brewery and beverage giant on the other hand, said big sporting events and the World Cup in particular, increased consumption of beverages, driven in part by public match screenings and related activities which are organised for the competition, driving consumption further.

As with cinema sales, it is the involvement of footballing nations supported by the Maltese that “does, to a certain extent, depend on the participating teams and their level of success”, the Farsons spokesperson had said, meaning it all depends on whether Italy and England are playing, and playing well.

NSO cinema statistics for the period between 2013 and 2017 show revenue increasing every year, accompanied by a drop in screenings that likely reflects the trend where people turn out to watch highly anticipated movies, and fewer on the spur of the moment.

Foreign productions had 745,493 admissions in 2017 with total gross box office receipts of €4.8 million in 50,360 screenings.

During 2017, cinemas registered a total of 757,203 admissions, an increase of 12.4% when compared to the prior year, and an increase in gross box office receipts of 14% to €4.85 million.

At 13 screens, Eden Cinemas received around 54% of all gross box office receipts in 2017.

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