Belgian ticket sales jump 8.3% in '06


BRUSSELS -- Cinema attendance was up 8.3% in Belgium in 2006, to 23.93 million, according to figures released Monday by the Belgian government's statistics office.

The popularity of such summer blockbusters as "The Da Vinci Code," "Les Bronzes 3" and "Mission: Impossible III" helped drive the increase in attendance, the report said.

It also attributed the bump to increasing success in the fight against piracy, as studios worked to block illegal downloads through the courts and copy prevention mechanisms.

The figures show that the average audience per screening was up slightly, to 47.2 from 43.9 in 2005, raising occupancy rates from 15.8% to 16.5%. The average person went to the cinema 2.28 times per year.

While the numbers suggest a gentle upsurge over the past decade, they are still far behind the earliest figures in the statistical archives. In 1960, cinema attendance stood at 79.56 million and the average person went to the cinema 8.67 times in 1960. There were 1,506 screens that year, compared with 507 in 2006.