Cineworld banks on Captain Jack and Harry Potter

CINEMA chain Cineworld brushed off a lean patch for 3D films as it pinned its hopes on summer blockbusters including the final Harry Potter movie and the latest instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

At yesterday's AGM at the O2 centre in London, the Aim-quoted company reported a 8.9 per cent fall in revenues in the 19 weeks to 12 May after this year's releases failed to match last year's 3D hits, including Avatar and Alice in Wonderland.

Cineworld report a 7.8 per cent fall in box office takings, compared to a 9.5 per cent slide for the industry as a whole in the UK and Ireland, according to data from Rentrak and EDI.

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But the chain, which has 78 sites including seven in Scotland, said that comparisons would become easier over the coming weeks as the effect of the World Cup - when cinema attendances fell - comes into play.

Box offices are expected to be busy with the release yesterday of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two.

The group's retail sales, which include food and drink, declined 9.9 per cent in the period, which Cineworld blamed on the type of blockbuster films released.

Oscar winners such as The King's Speech and Black Swan, while successful, attracted a higher number of older customers who on average spend less on food and drink.

Nigel Parson, an analyst at Evolution Securities, said: "Our estimates and 245p share price target are unchanged - the recent 12 per cent drop in the share price seems to us an outstanding buying opportunity."

Nick Batram, at Peel Hunt, agreed that the "picture is set to improve" for Cineworld and retained his "buy" rating.