* Box office takings up 19.1 percent in year to date
* Sees softening in advertising demand
* Strong list of film releases set for second quarter
* Shares flat
(Adds CEO comment, shares)
By John Bowker
LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - British cinema chain Cineworld CINE.L said on Wednesday the release of a string of likely summer blockbusters had boosted confidence for the year as a whole in spite of a slump in advertising demand.
Cineworld said in a statement that box office takings were up 19.1 percent in the 17 weeks to April 23, driven by British multi-Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, but other income led by advertising was down 24.6 percent in the same period.
“The release of films this year is phenomenal ... (the latest) X-Men opens today, while Star Trek has had fantastic reviews,” Chief Executive Steve Wiener told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the long-awaited comeback from Titanic director James Cameron was also expected to be a winner.
He said advertising had been tough, and had been made worse by the end of a contract with Carlton Screen Advertising.
“We never give up -- we are restructuring the sales department, have new equipment and are showing trailers to advertisers,” Wiener said.
Cineworld shares, up 25 percent this year, were unchanged at 131 pence by 0908 GMT, valuing the business at 185 million pounds ($272.2 million).
Income from food and drink sales was up 10.1 percent -- but Wiener said fans of Slumdog Millionaire had not been big buyers of popcorn and hotdogs.
“Slumdog sent coffee sales through the roof, but Star Trek is an ideal movie for the eating crowd,” he said.
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