SPIDER-MAN helped Cineworld to a “particularly strong” December.

Cineworld, the second largest cinema chain, said attendances last month reached 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Cineworld, which runs the nine-screen multiplex at Whiteley Shopping Centre and Southampton's Harbour Lights Picturehouse, said the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home highlighted the importance of big-screen releases.

The group said its UK box office sales in December were at 89 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with its US Regal cinemas reporting revenues at 91 per cent.

It also welcomed 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 per cent 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.

Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “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 per cent higher at 40.2p in early trading on Friday.