U.K. boxoffice overflows in record year

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LONDON -- With wet weather and without competition from the World Cup or the Olympics, the U.K. boxoffice enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2007 that was fueled by a big jump in admissions.

Data collated by Nielsen EDI revealed record boxoffice revenue of more than 904 million pounds ($1.8 billion), 8% higher than 2006. The Cinema Advertising Assn. estimates ticket sales of 175 million for the year, up 11.5% from 157 million in 2006. An official figure will be released soon.

The top performer of the year was "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which grossed more than 49 million pounds ($96.8 million). The top 10 also included threequels "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Shrek the Third," "Spider-Man 3" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."

According to Nielsen EDI, 2007 saw records for the most movies exceeding 10 million pounds ($19.8 million) and 20 million ($39.5 million), with 23 titles breaking the former barrier and 12 surpassing the latter.

Warner Bros., led by "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "I Am Legend" and "300," topped the distributors field with 15.6% of the market. Paramount Pictures International finished second with 14.7%, led by "Shrek the Third" and "Transformers."

Rounding out the top five were Universal Pictures International with 13.9%, 20th Century Fox with 13.8% and Walt Disney Studios International with 10.7%.

"The wet summer weather helped to boost ticket sales, along with the absence of major sporting events competing for the audience's attention, such as the football World Cup or Olympic Games," according to Nick King, president international for Nielsen Entertainment.

"Despite the ongoing threat of piracy and the increasing popularity of DVD and home cinema systems, 2007 has proved once again that audiences still love a night out at the pictures."

Dave Thurston, U.K. managing director of Nielsen EDI, noted that many predict that 2008 will surpass the record-breaking 2007,

"As screenwriter William Goldman famously said about the film industry, 'Nobody knows anything,' " he said, "but if you look at the lineup for 2008, it includes some potentially huge blockbusters. We'll see the return of highly popular franchises such as 'Indiana Jones,' 'Harry Potter,' 'James Bond,' 'Batman,' 'Narnia,' 'The Incredible Hulk,' 'Rambo,' 'X-Files,' 'The Mummy,' 'Hellboy,' 'National Treasure,' 'Madagascar' and 'Star Trek.' "
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