U.K. boxoffice up 6% in first half

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LONDON -- Boxoffice revenue for the first half of 2007 rose 6% above the level of the same period last year, hitting a total of £396.8 million ($813.7 million) in ticket sales, according to figures published Tuesday by the Film Distributors' Assn.

The FDA attributed the rise in boxoffice action to the popularity of such "home-grown" movies as "Mr. Bean's Holiday," "Notes on a Scandal" and "Hot Fuzz" as well as the return to the big screen of such proven character draws as Jack Sparrow ("Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"), Shrek ("Shrek the Third"), Spider-Man ("Spider-Man 3") and Rocky ("Rocky Balboa").

The organization also drew attention to the sheer choice being offered audiences with 246 films securing a U.K. cinema release. The rise in cash from tickets was matched with a 6.4% rise in admissions in the first half of 2007, with 76.9 million tickets sold, compared with 72.3 million during the same period last year.

The rise in audiences came on top of a rise in advertising outlay.

The FDA said that U.K. film distributors invested £82.4 million ($168.9 million) in media advertising over the six months ending in June to launch and sustain their releases, an increase of 4% above the same period in 2006.

Some £34.2 million ($70.1 million) was spent on TV spots, £28.8 million ($59 million) on outdoor poster panels and £13.6 million ($27.9 million) on press advertising. Online and radio commercials accounted for the remaining £5.8 million ($11.9 million), the FDA figures indicate.

Said FDA CEO Mark Batey: "Coming off such a strong start to the year, this summer's wonderful lineup is already attracting cinemagoers in record numbers. The schedules are jam-packed week in, week out, and it's intensely competitive all the way, but overall prospects for the year look very encouraging."

The FDA is the trade body for U.K. theatrical film distributors spanning such overseas studio operations as Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox and independents including Entertainment Film Distributors, Optimum Releasing, the Works Distribution and Pathe Distribution. The organization's members account for more than 97% of all titles released in the U.K.
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