U.K. film, video numbers defy credit crunch

Cinema admissions up 6%, DVD sales up 6.5%

LONDON -- The credit crunch, global financial turmoil, rising unemployment and rocketing household bills is all good news for the home entertainment industry and movie theaters in the U.K.

At least at the moment, if research from the British Video Assn. is to be believed.

Third-quarter figures from the group flag record DVD sales of 51.7 million units, up 6.5% on the same period last year.

September was a bumper month, with video sales up 7.4% over the same month last year, the BVA said Thursday. The jump took sales through the end of September to 161.8 million DVDs.

The U.K. cinema industry also has seen its best performance in 40 years, with the Cinema Exhibitors' Assn. announcing total admissions for June-August at 53.6 million, up 6% from last year.

And the BVA is confident things will only get better, with the months running up to Christmas usually playing out as bumper buying time for DVDs and moviegoing.

Blu-ray will also play a key role going forward. The research indicates Blu-ray Disc sales up 396% to just short of 1.5 million units for the year to date.

"Everyone enjoys a well told story and, at times of economic hardship, history has shown that U.K. consumers turn to the home entertainment and film industries for comfort," BVA director general Lavinia Carey said. "As a popular and value-for-money choice for leisure spending, we expect to see continued volume growth in our market as consumers tighten their belts."