UPDATE 1-Harsh winter, weak Spain hit Kinepolis cinemas

Thu May 16, 2013 1:48am EDT

* Q1 visitor numbers down 8.7 pct year-on-year

* Spanish attendance down 16.1 pct

* Says core profit down year-on-year (Adds decline in Spanish economy, country-specific numbers)

BRUSSELS, May 16 (Reuters) - Belgian cinema operator Kinepolis reported an 8.7 percent decline in visitor numbers in the first quarter due to a harsh winter, a weak movie line-up and the deep recession in Spain.

The company, with cinemas in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland, said on Thursday that core profit fell despite rising sales of snacks and drinks, higher box office revenue per visitor and increased advertising income.

Kinepolis said the extended winter with a lot of snow in northern Europe and a lack of strong films in the first three months of the year affected attendance.

The deepest decline in visitor numbers was in Spain, with a 16.1 percent drop. The Spanish economy contracted by 0.5 percent in the first quarter and by 2.0 percent year-on-year. Value-added tax there also rose last year to 21 from 8 percent.

The absence of Dutch- or French-language films drove down Belgian attendance by 7.6 percent while the number of French visitors dropped 6.1 percent.

Switzerland, which makes up only about 1 percent of total attendance, was the only market to experience an increase. (Reporting By Anders Melin; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)