U.S. pics boost Cineplex bottom line

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TORONTO -- Better boxoffice returns from Hollywood movies led Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund on Tuesday to reduce its first-quarter loss to CAN$3.8 million ($3.2 million), from a loss of CAN$8.9 million in 2006.

Toronto-based Cineplex saw revenue for the three months ending March 31 rise 9.8% to CAN$178.6 million ($159.5 million), from CAN$162.7 million last year.

Boxoffice receipts came to CAN$112.9 million ($100 million), against a year-earlier CAN$103 million, as the Canadian exhibitor did better business with its Hollywood releases and generated new income from putting the Metropolitan Opera series and National Hockey League games in its theaters.

Concession sales also improved, moving to CAN$52.3 million ($46.7 million) in the latest quarter from CAN$49 million last year.

The publicly traded Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund has a 75.7% stake in Toronto-based Cineplex Entertainment LP, which operates 128 theaters with 1,290 screens nationwide.

The remaining 24.3% stake in Cineplex Entertainment is mostly controlled by Canadian leverage buyout specialist Onex Corp.

Stock in Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund rose CAN$0.20 ($0.16) to CAN$17.60 ($15.70), well up from its 52-week low of CAN$10.10, as investors anticipate increased business from the upcoming instalments from the "Spider Man," "Harry Potter," "Shrek" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises.

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