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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 09:17 GMT
Bumper year for Hollywood
Shrek was one of 2001's biggest hits
Shrek was one of 2001's biggest hits
Hollywood film studios are celebrating after official figures show 2001 was the best year for audience attendance since the early days of television.

Films including Harry Potter, Shrek and Lord of the Rings helped the box office hit a record high of $8.41bn (5.9bn), well above 2000's $7.7bn (5.4bn).

The report by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents Hollywood's major movie studios, shows that films are costing less to produce.

The figures were announced at the annual movie industry convention, ShoWest in Las Vegas.

MPAA President Jack Valenti admitted he is surprised by the figures, especially after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

'Bizarre'

He said: "A lot of people thought after 11 September, the movie industry would go into the tank.

"People would be umbilically connected to their electronic box in their living room and wouldn't dare leave home.

"For some strange, but to me not bizarre reason, the opposite happened."

The average cost of making and marketing a film fell by about four percent to $78.7m (55.3m) from $82.1m (57.7m) last year.

The number of people entering movie theatres rose to about 1.5 billion, a five percent rise from 2000 and the highest total since 1959.

James Bond 20 is released later this year
James Bond 20 is released later this year

Movie bosses will be hoping that 2002 is as good a year with many big movie sequels set for release.

Men In Black 2, the second part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter sequel and a new James Bond film are all released this year.

However Mr Valenti warned there are some dark clouds on the horizon.

The average cost of marketing and distributing a film rose by $4m (2.8m) to $31m (21.8m).

He said: "That's a cost that seems to be very difficult to put a harness on."

He also warned that video piracy will increase in the digital age.

Mr Valenti said that high-speed Internet services will allow movie fans to download films faster and share them with other computer users the way song swap services like Napster did with music.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Film
Hollywood enjoys record year
19 Dec 01 | Film
Hollywood expects record 2001
08 Oct 01 | Film
Hollywood re-think expensive
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