The men and women who help you to find your seat are to put on night vision goggles to thwart cinema pirates.

Vue Cinemas said on Monday its staff would spend all two hours and 22 minutes of the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban scanning the theatres in an effort to uncover anyone trying to secretly record the film.

The goggles were distributed to Vue cinemas around Britain, along with copies of the film, by Warner Brothers.

The company is determined to fight back after a deluge of poor quality copies of the first two Harry Potter movies hit the black market.

Film fans unlikely to be distracted
by goggle-wearing ushers

"It is an incredible response and makes you realise why the distributors are so keen to protect the film from pirates," said Jamie Graham, who manages a Vue complex in Ellesmere, central England.

"I have been working in the cinema industry for 10 years and I have never heard of anything like this before."

Film's popularity

Graham said his theater had sold 6500 tickets before 0900 GMT for screenings of the movie, which opened Monday in Britain.
 
"Our ushers are using the goggles in every screening to check nobody is making any illegal recordings," he said. "If anybody is caught, then they will be reported to the police."

The popularity of the Harry Potter movie franchise shows little sign of dwindling, with hundreds of fans turning out for the premiere of the new film on Sunday night in London's Leicester Square.

The film opens on Friday in the United States.