Cinemas enjoy blockbuster year

Cinema attendances shot up last year to 112.1 million - the highest for at least a decade. The record confirms a rise in the popularity of film and the reversal of the 1980s trend when the growth of the home video market meant fewer and fewer people bothered to go.

Last year's attendances were boosted by the popularity of films such as Independence Day, Mission Impossible and 101 Dalmatians. However, admissions dipped sharply in the fourth quarter of last year, with a 19.2 per cent fall on the third quarter.

The Office for National Statistics, which released the numbers, also estimated there were 1,757 screens operating in 483 cinemas across Britain.

But despite the rise in attendances, the new figures are still barely one-tenth of those from cinema's heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, before the advent of television.