CINEWORLD could look at job cuts, rent negotiations and delaying refurbishment projects after announcing a £2.2billion loss, a commentator has said.

The cinema chain – which operates Poole’s 16-screen multiplex at Tower Park – revealed a 3.01bn US dollar loss for 2020 after revenues fell by 80 per cent.

But it voiced optimism that it will benefit from pent-up demand when cinemas reopen.

Admissions fell from 275milllion to 54.5m last year, with cinemas closed for prolonged periods in the UK and much of the US.

Cineworld and Harbour Lights Picturehouse owner makes £2.2bn loss

The group said it was hopeful of a recovery thanks to vaccine progress and “strong pent-up demand” once its cinemas open in the US from April 2, in the UK from May 17, and the rest of the world also in May.

But it warned of “material uncertainties” over its ability to continue as a going concern, given the potential for further disruption to its sites and the release of films during the crisis.

Harry Barnick, senior analyst at investment consultancy Third Bridge, said: “After enduring a year of blank screens and empty theatres, Cineworld is keen to emphasise the imminent return of cinema-goers.

“However, our experts say cinemas are unlikely to see 2019 attendance levels until 2023 and point to how Cineworld continues to suffer from its large debt pile.

“The cinema chain will go into cash preservation mode: labour cuts, rent negotiations and postponed refurbishments can all be expected.”

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “For all of us across the world, this has been an incredibly challenging year.

“At Cineworld, I never imagined a time that we would see the closure of our entire cinema estate, nor that varying restrictions would remain in place for so long as we continue to navigate our way through this crisis.”

He told the PA news agency: “I think we will have a mix of new and old films in May, but by summer we should just have a really strong slate of new movies.

“It will be different from when we reopened last year because of the vaccine, that puts us in a much better positions.

“Also, last year the only big release we really had was Tenet and this year, with Bond, the new Top Gun and Matrix films, that will get people fired up again for the cinema experience.”

The group’s entire 767 cinema estate has been shut for lengthy periods since last March.

During the brief period when it could open, the business had to trade without the usual raft of big film releases.

But it said: “Looking forward, the outlook is more positive, with restrictions expected to ease in light of the vaccination programmes under way across our territories.”

The group also announced yesterday moves to boost its balance sheet by 213m US dollars (£155.8m) through a bond fundraising.

The group revealed a deal this week to secure the release of Warner Bros films on Cineworld screens for up to 45 days before they are streamed on the studio’s HBO Max platform.

But Cineworld revealed in its central forecast that it only expects to achieve 60 per cent of 2019 admissions even if it opens all its cinemas as expected in May.

The group said it expects to gradually recover to 95 per cent of 2019 admissions in 2023.