CINEWORLD and Picturehouse cinemas have hiked the average price of tickets by more than 40% since screens reopened as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

The revelation comes as cinema bosses revealed the top performing movies of the year so far have been Peter Rabbit 2, A Quiet Place Part II and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It grossing just 49.4 million dollars (£35.6m).

However the chain was significantly down on the 103.6m dollars (£74.7m) made by the biggest films in the first half of 2020, with movie studios holding back major releases until more clarity on the pandemic was known.

In the UK, Cineworld said the first six months of the year saw admissions hit just 2.6m, down from 9.6m in the same period in 2020, with box office sales down 61.9% to 30.2m dollars (£21.8m), despite the hike in ticket prices.

READ MORE: Cineworld: 45,000 UK and US staff hit in cinemas shutdown

Announcing its results to the stock exchange, the company said the average ticket price rise “was driven by a mix of customer behaviour and timing of film releases”.

It added: “The decrease in admissions was due to the impact of the temporary closure of our cinemas for significant periods during the six months ended June 30 2021 and June 30 2020, as well as a lack of major film releases as distributors delayed the release of major titles due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Retail revenue from sales of popcorn and drinks also dropped 56.1% to 12.9m dollars (£9.3m) although the average spend per customer was up 62%, suggesting hardcore fans were willing to spend more to get back in front of a big screen after so many lockdowns.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Film industry left with 'no certainty'

Globally, the chain said admissions in the six months to the end of June were 14.1 million, 70% down on the same period last year, which also included periods of closure due to Covid.

Bosses said there was a “material uncertainty” around the company’s ability to continue if further lockdowns continued, as they would breach banking covenants on loans due next summer.