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Force retreats to movies after poor year

By Aimee McClinchy

Friday 15th September 2000

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CINEMAS: Force sticks to what it knows
Cinema company Force Corporation has performed a $14 million bellyflop into the red and posted a $7 million loss after failed attempts to diversify its business.

Force now plans to go back to what it is best at, its core cinema business, after it wrote down its for-sale properties by $10 million, spent close to $500,000 on professional fees on the now unwound movie merger with Hoyts and Village and failed merger with Ihug, lost $256,000 on Planet Hollywood and another $1.1 million on Planet Hollywood's restaurant start-up costs.

The ongoing court case over ownership of the Queen St entertainment centre with Australian MTM Trust also hangs over Force and is the principal cause of a $21.5 million increase in Force's debt to $93.4 million.

Force has called it a "clean out" year with $11.6 million of non-recurring costs and plans to stick solely to the steady but lacklustre income from movies.

Company secretary Peter Holdaway said Force was not looking for another partner.

"We've got plenty on our plate at the moment. We are having a clean up, concentrating on movies and selling our property. We want to start from a position where we can move forward," he said.

Force had tried to diversify into the internet, property and entertainment fields - it was said to have approached Sky City and Radioworks unsuccessfully for a merger after Ihug - after cinema growth started to plateau.

Ord Minett analyst Arthur Lim said Force needed to explore all the options.

"When you've tried every trick in the book you have to go back to the knitting and start making some money," another analyst said.

Force's share price fell from 35c to 32c after the announcement.

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