Cineworld has reported a surge in annual profits – the first covering its takeover of US-based Regal Entertainment which enjoyed record box office results.

Cineworld became the second-largest cinema chain in the world when it completed the £2.7bn deal in February last year.

The group made a pre-tax profit of 349 million US dollars (£262.2 million) in 2018 compared with 155.1 million dollars (£116.5 million) a year earlier.

Shares in the FTSE 250 firm rose more than 6% after it revealed pre-tax profits of £262.2m – up 125% on 2017 and a 17.6% increase in its dividend.

Cineworld said revenue benefited particularly from record box office receipts in the US – hitting £3.1bn from £864m in the previous 12 months.

It credited strong performances across the pond from Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2 which together grossed £1.4bn.

Chadwick Boseman and the Black Panther cast on stage at the SAG awards
Chadwick Boseman and the Black Panther cast on stage at the SAG awards

UK admissions were down almost 3% but that was offset by rising retail revenue of 3.5% – spending on things such as popcorn and drinks.

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The company said integration with Regal was progressing ahead of schedule – with over £100m of savings expected this year.

It was running 790 sites across 10 countries at the start of the year – with a refurbishment programme continuing to complement its expansion.

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “The combination with Regal has exceeded our expectations – we have incorporated the best of both companies by bringing together world-class talent, integrating best practice from both sides of the Atlantic, and deepened our understanding of the US market.

“Whilst the group has expanded significantly, our strategy and vision remain the same – to be ‘the best place to watch a movie’ by continually focusing on providing the best customer experience, maintaining technological leadership, expanding and upgrading the estate, and training and retaining highly-motivated, experienced and loyal staff.

We look forward to the strong film slate for the remainder of the year.”

Upcoming movies include Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Episode IX.