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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
European cinema suffers downturn
Jessica Alba in Sin City
Sin City did not perform as well as expected
Box office returns across Europe have slumped in line with a US downturn, according to industry figures.

German ticket sales are down 20% compared to the first six months of last year, with Italy and Spain registering double figure declines.

But the UK's cinemas are showing only a small decrease, trade paper Hollywood Reporter said.

Some European cinemas say adopting US practices, including summer blockbuster releases, have led to a decline.

They say the US tradition of watching summer films in an air-conditioned cinema are less applicable to Europe.

"In Germany, most of the theatres don't have air conditioning, and when it gets hot, we don't go to the movies, we go outside to the park and the beer gardens," Eva Matlock, manager of Germany's AG Kino, told the paper.

Less unique

Another strong factor which is being blamed for the slump is the boom in home cinema, particularly DVDs.

Film distributors have been forced to tighten release windows in an effort to combat piracy, while the big screen experience has thought to have become less unique.

Poor economic conditions are also being cited as a reason for the downturn, with people less reluctant to part with their money for a visit to the cinema.

In the US, a 19-week run of declining figures was finally ended this week with the release of the Fantastic Four, which took $56m (32m) on its debut.

Total box office returns were up 2.25% on the same week in 2004.

But there are concerns the summer's planned releases will not be able to sustain the upturn.

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