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U.K. box office breaks records

One in three Brits went to theaters in July

LONDON — When it rains, it pours money for U.K. exhibs. July’s torrential rain sent 21.8 million Brits, more than a third of the population, running to theaters for entertainment — the highest figure for a single month in U.K. box office history.

The previous record was 19 million admissions in February 2002.

The uncommonly wet summer — it was the wettest June on record while July recorded double the average rainfall for that month — boosted auds’ desire for indoor entertainment.

Admissions were also helped by the plethora of blockbuster releases. “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Shrek the Third,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “The Simpsons Movie” have all broken into the U.K.’s all-time top 30 grossing list.

“It’s absolutely sensational and substantially up on previous years,” said Mark Batey, chief exec of the Film Distributors’ Assn., the trade body repping U.K. film distribs.

“The past couple of years have seen admissions of around 16 million in July so it’s a significant jump. The fact that there was no international soccer or Olympics, as well as the super abundance of commercial releases has all contributed to this ultimate summer of cinema.”

The FDA expected 3 million people to visit theaters over the past weekend, which includes a public holiday today, with “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Knocked Up” and “Rush Hour 3” expected to keep coffers full.

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