European cinema figures up

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European cinema figures up

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The Oscars are awarded this weekend, but the European Audiovisual Observatory has been blowing the trumpet for cinema on this side of the pond with the publication of the latest audience figures.

Overall attendance was up by four percent in the EU’s 25 members in 2006, before the entry of Rumania and Bulgaria.

Results varied, but the Observatory noted with satisfaction that the performance was underpinned by strong showings for locally-produced movies.

German cinema appears to be in the middle of a mini-revival. “The lives of others”, a drama about the Stasi secret police, was one of six local films in the top 20.

The Baltic states saw big jumps in cinema attendance, as did the Czech republic, as local film industries revived; and France, like Germany, also rebounded from weak 2005 figures.

However Britain, the second biggest market dipped a little, as did Spain. The only other nations where audiences fell were Hungary and new member Rumania.

Europe’s cinema giant France even had cause to celebrate at long queues for home-grown movies, after years of moaning that US blockbusters were draining away their audiences, even if fans could grumble that the top movie was a lame comedy retread of a late 70’s hit formula.

However another big hit “Les Indigenes” was more encouraging, highlighting the role local troops played in supporting France’s ill-fated attempt to hold onto Algeria.