Cineworld said its recovery was boosted by a “particularly strong” December due to bumper audience numbers for the latest Spider-Man film.
The second largest cinema chain saw shares lift after it said attendances moved close to 90% of pre-pandemic levels during the month.
Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of the company, said the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home highlighted “the importance of cinematic releases” to studios amid increased investment and focus towards streaming platforms such as Disney+ and Netflix.
The group said its UK box office sales in December were at 89% of pre-pandemic levels, with its US Regal cinemas reporting revenues at 91%.
It also hailed an “excellent” slate of movies over the year, including Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Venom, Black Widow and Dune.
However, it came after a particularly weak November, which had seen sales across the group drop to 56% of levels from 2019.
Cineworld blamed the poor showing on changes to film release schedules during the month.
It specifically highlighted that Paramount’s decision to delay Top Gun: Maverick’s release from November to May 2022 “impacted the gradual recovery seen since reopening”.
The group, which runs 751 theatres globally, said its operations outside of the US and UK were weighed down by government Covid restrictions during November and December.
Cineworld was also optimistic about its recovery in 2022, hailing a “strong” release schedule, which includes The Batman, Morbius, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise Of Gru, and Thor: Love And Thunder.
Mr Greidinger added: “We are pleased to see continued strong demand amongst audiences for cinema experiences, supported by a slate of high-quality and high-performing movies.
“This demonstrates that fans are continuing to choose the unrivalled theatrical experience.
“We have seen recovery in theatre attendances across our geographies, which generated a positive cashflow performance for Q4.
“Whilst there are challenges ahead, we are excited to welcome customers to our cinemas to enjoy the highly anticipated slate of movies throughout 2022.”
Shares in the company were 3.6% higher at 40.2p in early trading.