TORONTO - Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund (TSX:CGX.UN) says its first-quarter profit nearly tripled as more spectators bought premium-priced tickets for 3-D movies and spent more money at the concession stands.

The operator of Canada's largest theatre chain earned $9.5 million in the first three months of the year, up from $3.7 million a year earlier.

Overall revenue was $257.2 million, an increase from $211 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The president and CEO of Cineplex, Ellis Jacob, said "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" dominated the box office during the quarter and the two 3-D films contributed more than one-third of all ticket revenue.

Both films carried a higher ticket price for their 3-D versions, and an even higher one on Imax screens, which boosted each ticket sale by $3 to $5.

"Our box office revenue this quarter was the highest in the history of the fund," Jacob said in a release.

Attendance increased by 13 per cent from a year earlier, pushing box office revenue to $160.3 million.

Revenues from concessions were also higher, growing by 18.6 per cent to $74,9 million — or $4.15 per visitor.

Cineplex also noted that its media division — which handles on-screen and lobby advertising — saw revenues climb 34 per cent to $14.2 million, helped by more spending by automakers and telecom companies.

Jacob said the company installed 50 additional 3D projection systems during the quarter, bringing the total to just under 200 — about 15 per cent of all Cineplex screens across Canada.

Units of the fund rose 26 cents to $21.25 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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