The Norwegian film industry has joined forces on a project called Summer Cinema (Sommerkino) to boost cinema admissions during the summer months when long daylight hours keep audiences out of theatres.

An initiative of trade organisation Film & Kino, the project is backed by all Norwegian distributors, as well as 96 cinemas spread across Norway.

"Norwegian box office falls 50% from May to July, compared to average monthly figures," said project manager Ivar Halstvedt. "By focusing on blockbusters and presenting cinema as a cultural alternative from May to the middle of July, we hope to increase box office by 20% within two or three years. 11.5 million tickets were sold in 1999, but in May the figures were just 500,000. We aim to get these figures up to at least 600,000.

Summer Cinema has 13 movies in its portfolio, the biggest titles being Gladiator, Mission: Impossible 2, Gone In Sixty Seconds and Final Destination.

Halstvedt points out that Norwegian distributors usually premiere blockbusters at Easter or "Super Friday" - the second Friday of August - but this year they are willing to schedule them for the Summer Cinema project.

Summer Cinema sponsors include broadcaster TV3, mobile phone company Ericsson, Film & Kino, along with participating distributors and cinemas. The first results of the project will be seen when May box office figures are available, but Halstvedt claims there is already a slight increase in tickets sold compared to recent years.