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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 09:32 GMT
Record US box office high in 2004
Shrek 2
Shrek 2 was 2004's highest grossing film in the US
Ticket sales at the US box office reached a record high in 2004, although the actual number of moviegoers fell for a second year in a row.

Movies took $9.4bn (4.9bn) at the domestic box office last year, compared to $9.2bn (4.8bn) in 2003.

The record high was attributed to increased ticket price, with attendance falling 1.7% to 1.51 billion.

Shrek 2 was 2004's highest grossing film in the US, taking $436m (229m), tracker Exhibitor Relations reported.

Late boost

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 were unexpected box office successes in 2004, taking $370m (194m) and $119m (62.5m) respectively in the US.

Revenue for the year was falling behind 2003 in the final weeks of 2004, but comedy sequel Meet the Fockers boosted takings with total ticket sales of $162.5m (85.3m) in the last fortnight of the year.

The average US ticket price was $6.22 (3.26) last year, compared to $6.03 (3.16) in 2003.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of The Sith
Hayden Christensen stars in the new Star Wars movie
Analysts said the two-year decline was no cause for alarm because 2002 was an anomaly with hit films such as the first Spider-Man movie and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

That year also included the latest instalments in the Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series.

"This is a great year," said Exhibitor Relations president Paul Dergarabedian.

"We saw such massive increases in revenue and attendance in 2001 and 2002, there is just no way we're going to see increases sustained at that rate."

Among films expected to perform well in US cinemas this year are Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Batman Begins starring Christian Bale.

King Kong, directed by Lord of the Rings film-maker Peter Jackson, and Steven Spielberg's version of The War of the Worlds are also expected to prove popular.

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