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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
UK cinema attendance down by 5%
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Casino Royale was the most popular film with UK cinema-goers
The number of people going to the cinema in the UK fell for the second consecutive year in 2006, despite an increase in the number of films shown.

Admissions dropped by 5%, from 164.7m in 2005 to 156.6m in 2006, according to figures from the UK Film Council.

Takings were also down, despite Casino Royale and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest entering the all-time UK box office top 10 in 2006.

The film council said it expects the downward trend to be reversed in 2007.

"Admissions are likely to be up with the release of major productions such as the new Harry Potter instalment and could reach 160 million," said head of research and statistics, David Steele.

Aging audiences

Despite the drop in 2006, the council's figures showed that both audiences and takings had risen over the last decade.

The UK box office was worth 762m in 2006, compared to 489m in 1997 - a rise of 56%.

Cinema audience
Audiences are increasingly turning away from multiplexes
A new generation of older film fans is partly responsible, with the number of over-45s attending the cinema doubling from 19 million to 38 million over the last 10 years.

Older audiences also spearheaded a move away from the weekend as the most popular time to watch a film.

Weekends only accounted for 60% of box office takings last year, down from 68% in 2002.

For the first time in a decade, there has also been a rise in the number of non-multiplex cinemas - which have fewer than five screens - and rural cinemas.

Experts say this could also be down to older audiences, as well as changing tastes within the cinema-going population.

However, the majority of film fans are still very young - nearly half of the total are under the age of 25.

Bond bonanza

They have mostly been watching Hollywood films, which accounted for more than three-quarters of all box office receipts.

But a British movie, Casino Royale, was the most popular film overall in 2006, taking 55.5m at the box office.

Outside the UK, British film exports are at an 11-year high, with receipts of $2.2bn (1.1bn) at the global box office.

The Da Vinci Code was the strongest performer last year, earning $758m (380m).

"The British film industry is in rude health," said John Woodward, chief executive officer of the UK Film Council.

"Film remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment in this country, exports are up, and UK films are winning top awards."

However, he warned, the industry faces challenges from the internet, piracy and increased competition overseas.

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