EU film prod'n reaches record high in 2008

Italy leads increase with 37% hike over 2007

CANNES -- The credit crunch may be putting the squeeze on buyers at Cannes but there is no sign of a slowdown on the European production market.

According to official figures released by the European Audiovisual Observatory, there were 1,145 feature films produced in the European Union last year, 10.8% up on a year earlier.

Production volumes rose sharpest in Italy, which saw a 37% uptick on 2007.

France remains the European country with the highest level of production, delivering 196 feature films last year, followed by Germany with 151 and Spain with 150.

French and British films were European boxoffice champs of 2008, accounting for more than 77% of total admissions in the EU. That thanks mainly to U.S./U.K. co-productions "Mamma Mia!" and "Quantum of Solace" and French hits "Welcome to the Sticks" and "Asterix at the Olympic Games."

Overall, European films' market share came in at 28.4% of total EU admissions. That's just off 2007's record take of 28.6%.

But Hollywood is still king in Europe, with U.S. titles taking a 63% share of the market.