Forecasts of a slump in cinema returns have been quashed by a record summer (03) at the American box office - thanks to a late surge of high grossing hits.

Figures for the season takings are now expected to reach $3.9 billion (GBP2.4 billion) - up 2 per cent from last summer's (02) previous record figure, according to box office monitor EXHIBITOR RELATIONS.

But because of higher admission prices, the number of tickets sold will actually be down about 2 per cent on last year (02), marking the first decline in three years.

Mega-grossing hits this summer include Finding Nemo, The Matrix Reloaded, Pirates Of The Caribbean: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, Bruce Almighty, X2, Terminator 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, Bad Boys II, S.W.A.T. and HULK.

02/09/2003 09:21