Norwegian exhibitor Oslo Kinematografer, owned by Oslo City Council, has posted a pre-tax profit of $696,000 (NKr6m) on turnover of $21.5m (NKr185m) for the 12 months to December 1999.

The result is significant improvement for the company which for the last two years has reported profits close to zero. Head of administration Atle Hillestad attributed the increased profit to staff cuts and a new practice of adjusting staffing levels to reflect low and high season. The re-opening of the Colusseum cinema also boosted results as did exceptional box office for titles such as Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace and The World Is Not Enough.

However, according to Hillestad the company could have performed better: "When you look at earnings, profit wasn't good enough in 1999," Hillestad told Screendaily, adding that profit for the 2000 financial year is currently forecast at $1.2-1.4m (NKr10-12m).

Oslo Kinematografer will face stiff competition over the next few years as Norway's exhibition sector is opened to private investment, allowing local distributors to enter the market for the first time. The Council has already decided to put a 49% stake in Oslo Kinematografer up for sale.

"The Council wants private investors with risk capital. We are facing competition and need to be prepared both in terms of quality and finance", Hillestad said.