British cinemas set for record takings at the box office as viewers flock to blockbusters

 

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The Independent Culture

Cinema ticket sales are set to smash through the £1bn barrier this year.

Rob Arthur, managing director at independent chain Apollo Cinemas, said sales were expected to top last year's £988m because of bigger audiences and higher ticket prices. "It's definitely shaping up to be [the best year on record] and will challenge the 175 million attendees we had across the industry when Lord Of The Rings was out in 2002," he said. "I'm really pleased with the mix of titles we've had this year."

The final Harry Potter instalment, Deathly Hallows Part II, is set to be the year's top film, with The Inbetweeners Movie and Oscar-winner The King's Speech taking second and third spots, respectively. All three are British or British-USproductions.

Mr Arthur added that 3D cinema had now truly taken off, accounting for a third of revenues. December is a traditionally strong month for cinemas, with studios holding back their biggest titles for the festive season. Puss In Boots and Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows have both done well on release this month.

But there have been warnings that next year will be tough on the industry. Mark Batey, head of the Film Distributors' Association, has warned that attendances could be hit as customers turn their attention to the London Olympics, the European football championships and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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