Village Roadshow and Greater Union today announced plans to acquire Warner Bros.' one-third stake in their Australian multiplex joint venture for approximately $61m (A$100m).

The original joint venture between the three companies opened its first multiplex cinema in Australia in 1988 and now operates 319 screens in 29 multiplexes across mainland Australia. The acquisition will result in Village and GUO each moving from 33.3% to 50% ownership of the joint venture.

At the same time, Village Roadshow reported a 2.5% increase in half-year net profit, across all its divisions, to $28.4m on revenue of $265m.

In its film production unit - where it shares the risk with Warner Bros - it saw a 70.6% hike in operating profit before tax to $17.2m.

The company said that some of the films released in the first half - such as Pluto Nash and Analyze That - had been disappointing at the box office, but Ghost Ship and Two Weeks Notice had exceeded expectations.

The remainder of the 2002/2003 year will see the release of Dreamcatcher and The Matrix Reloaded.

Matrix Revolutions will be released in November 2003 and looking ahead the company has a number of films in development, including Wonder Woman, Mystic River and Troy.