Cineworld said summer blockbusters including the latest Harry Potter film and The Simpsons Movie helped boost pre-tax profits to £12.4 million from last year's £7.7 million loss.

The multiplex-chain said its initial public offering in May last year was a success and raised £120 million for the group.

Group revenue rose 2.4 per cent to £285.3 million, while net debt was reduced to £124.4 million compared to £314.2 million in 2006.

Stephen Wiener, chief executive of Cineworld, said: "The new year for Cineworld has started well and attendances have been strong.

"This has been driven by the success of a number of blockbusters and is testament to the resilient nature of our business model and the enduring appeal of film. Overall, we anticipate an increase in revenue for 2008 as a whole."

Admissions up 4.9 per cent over the year to 45 million, earning the company £185.7 million in ticket sales, despite a slowing economy.

Cineworld said 2007 was a good year for film, at least in terms of ticket sales: the fifth Harry Potter instalment, the third Pirates Of The Caribbean film, Shrek The Third and The Simpsons Movie, all contributed significantly to admissions, according to the company.

Of its foreign language films, Germany's The Lives of Others, French films Tell No One and La Vie En Rose and The Curse of the Golden Flower from Hong Kong all contributed strongly to box office sales.

Cineworld also improved its food and drink sales, with retail spend per person by 3.1 per cent from £1.62 last year to £1.67.

The group has signed new contracts with Carlsberg for the supply of all alcohol at its cinemas and plans to roll-out branded coffee across its estate.

18/03/2008 11:23:22