U.K. boxoffice hits seven-year high

Recession doesn't dampen Brits' appetite for cinema

LONDON -- U.K. cinema admissions for the first half 2009 reached a seven-year high, driven by homegrown hit "Slumdog Millionaire" and blockbusters such as "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Star Trek," the Cinema Advertising Association said Monday.

The figures, which do not take into account last week's launch of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," show a significant strengthening of boxoffice revenue and numbers despite the recession.

Admissions over the first half of 2009 stand at 83,459,465, representing the most successful initial six-month period since the same period in 2002, the CAA said, citing data from Nielsen EDI.

Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire" ranks as the most successful movie this year to date in the U.K., with a boxoffice take of £31.7 million ($52.4 million), followed by "Monsters vs. Aliens" which made £21.1 million ($34.9 million) and J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek," which brought in £21 million ($34.7 million).

"Slumdog" could be knocked off the top spot, however, following the "Harry Potter" opening, which broke U.K. boxoffice records with a £4.7 million ($7.8 million) take for the July 15 opening night alone.

June also proved a positive month for British cinemas, with 12.5 million cinemagoers opting for a trip to the big screen, a rise of 5.6% year on year.

This month "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" has proved the biggest draw of the month, amassing more than £17 million ($28.1 million), followed by "Terminator Salvation," (£13.7 million/$22.7 million) and "The Hangover," (£11.8 million/$19.5 million).

"It's terrific to see the success of cinema continue throughout 2009 as the U.K. flocks to the silver screen," said CAA spokesperson Anna Cremin, citing the release of movies in 3D and new franchises as reasons for the strong tally.

Cremin said that the second half of the year also looked strong, with a range of highly anticipated movies through the year end.

"The next six months look equally promising for cinema's success. Of course there is the 'Harry Potter' release, but the next few months also hold the 'Twilight' sequel 'New Moon,' James Cameron's return to the big screen with the 3D sci-fi film 'Avatar' and disaster epic '2012.' It seems that even when money is tight, the U.K. is incredibly dedicated to the cinema experience."
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