Cineworld has blamed a lack of summer blockbusters for lower admission figures to its chain for the first half of the year.

Admissions were down slightly to £20.6 million from £21.7 million last year, as fewer blockbusters were released this year compared to 2007.

Last year, films such as the fifth Harry Potter instalment helped boost revenues. The sixth in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, was due to be released in the autumn, but Warner Brothers have now pushed back the date to the following summer.

This year, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Sex And The City both proved popular with audiences, Cineworld said, and box office takings were £40 million and £26 million respectively.

Sex and the City was particularly lucrative as the predominantly female audience presented unique marketing opportunities, Cineworld said.

Tony Bloom, chairman of Cineworld, commented: "This is a solid set of results, particularly when viewed against a backdrop of far fewer blockbuster films in the period and an increasingly challenging consumer environment."

Despite the economic slowdown, Cineworld said revenues were still strong, up 0.9 per cent from last year to £137 million.

"The enduring appeal of film continues to be even more pronounced in times of economic uncertainty and we feel confident that the strong line up of films in the second half will drive admissions, particularly in the fourth quarter, when James Bond: Quantum of Solace, Madagascar 2 and High School Musical 3 hit our screens," chief executive Stephen Wiener said in a statement.

The chain plans to roll out new cinemas across the UK and opened a new 12-screen cinema in March.

21/08/2008 13:00:48