Disney's North American large-screen format release of Beauty And The Beast is performing at near-record box office levels across the giant screen US network. Playing on 67 screens in the U.S. and Canada, the film has grossed $8m since its Jan 1 launch including approximately $2.1 million over last weekend.

In the UK, the Buena Vista large screen release has grossed a total of $130,650 from just three sites over two weeks.

Beauty And The Beast is the first of four films expected to be released to IMAX theatres by Disney over the next year, and is expected to be followed by Ultimate-X, The Young Black Stallion and a re-mastered version of The Lion King.

"We are thrilled with Disney's commitment to our format and its role as an industry visionary," said IMAX co-chief executive officers Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "Our owned and operated theatres are reporting some of their strongest results ever and the film is generating very positive word-of-mouth which seems to be fuelling strong attendance."

Last week (Jan 8) Wechsler reiterated the company's guidance for fiscal 2002, having bought back $42 million of its debt for less than a quarter of its value.

"Our rough targets basically remain the same as previously indicated, that we intend to run our business to be cash flow neutral or cash flow positive," Wechsler told Reuters.

"I just want to keep our old guidance out there. I don't want to amplify or change it right now" He said.

The co-head of the big-screen movie systems maker also said the company would be "opportunistic" about further repurchases of its debt, which largely consists of about $200 million of senior notes due December, 2005.