U.K. boxoffice struck by minor downturn in 2006

Revenue, tickets slip despite Brit hits

U.K. box-office revenue sagged 1% in 2006 and admissions fell 5% despite the fact that two movies — "Casino Royale" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" — joined the exclusive £50 million ($99 million)-plus club, according to research released Monday by the U.K. Film Council.

The Council said that £762 million ($1.5 billion) was squeezed from the U.K. boxoffice last year, while admissions dropped to 157 million, a downturn "partly due to World Cup fever and record temperatures."

The latest James Bond and Jack Sparrow installments each garnered more than $100 million in the U.K., a feat accomplished by just eight other films: "Titanic," the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Full Monty," "Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace" and the first two installments in the "Harry Potter" franchise.

The top 20 British movie favorites in 2006 grossed £151 million ($302 million), with "Casino Royale," "The Da Vinci Code," "Flushed Away," "The Queen," "Stormbreaker," "Children of Men," "The History Boys" and "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" leading the way.

"Last year's most successful British films at the U.K. boxoffice demonstrate the sheer range and style of film we can make, from high-concept visual effects productions to films that reflect British culture and history," Council CEO John Woodward said.

The Council also turned its eye to the small screen, noting a "gradual decline" in the number of films shown on British television. Movies on BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4 are down from 2,807 in 1997 to 2,011 films in 2006.

One-in-five films broadcast on television last year was deemed British. But the proportion of U.K. films less than eight years old shown on the main networks has increased over the past five years to 5.2% last year from 2.8% in 2002. Recent British films shown on BBC1 have more than doubled in five years, to 8.2% from 3.8% in 2002, the Council said.