Oz distribs upbeat about 9% tix surge

'Moulin,' 'Mummy Returns' among big earners

SYDNEY — B.O. receipts in Australia in the first half of this year rose by nearly 9% over the year-earlier frame, and distribs say upcoming releases will likely help produce an industry record for the year.

Ticket sales from Jan. 1 to June 27 tallied $A396.3 million ($206 million). Among the biggest money-earners were “Moulin Rouge,” “The Mummy Returns,” “Miss Congeniality,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Cast Away,” “What Women Want” and “Hannibal.”

The last half of 2000 was hit badly by the Sydney Olympics and the introduction of a 10% goods and services tax, resulting in an annual decline of 2.1% after 12 years of sustained B.O. growth.

“The second half will be much bigger this year,” one distrib predicted, pointing to “Shrek” (which has delivered monster numbers since its June 21 preem) and upcoming fare, including “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Jurassic Park III,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “Spy Kids.”

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