EU cinema attendance falls

But market share of European films rises slightly

BRUSSELS -- European Union cinema audiences fell 1.3% to 919 million admissions last year, but the market share of European films rose slightly, according to figures released Tuesday by the European Audiovisual Observatory.

While 2007 audiences were down from the 930.6 million in 2006, they were still comfortably higher than the 898.8 million figure in 2005, the EAO said in its annual report.

European films hit a 28.8% market share, up just a bit from the 28.6% in 2006. But the most popular film in Europe last year was "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," with 38.4 million tickets sold. Second place went to the third installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by "Shrek the Third" and "Spider-Man 3." Europe's most successful production was "Mr. Bean's Holiday," which sold 15.2 million tickets and ranked seventh overall.

Some 921 feature films were produced in the EU, 10 more than in 2006, and up by an annual average 5.1% since 2003.

Entirely national productions rose from 543 in 2003 to 711 in 2007. France led the rise, producing a total of 133 films and 52 co-productions.

Spanish production hit a record high, surging 9% to 115 films and 30 co-productions, while Italy produced 109 films, with 93 of those Italian-only and 16 co-productions.