U.K. admissions up 6%

76.9 million tickets sold

U.K. cinema admissions are up 6% to 76.9 million visits for the first six months of this year vs. a year earlier, according to the Film Distributors’ Assn.

Org attributes the rise to the success of homegrown pics, including “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” and “Hot Fuzz,” as well as the massive appeal of “Shrek the Third,” “Spider-Man 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

“Coming off such a strong start to the year, this summer’s wonderful lineup is already attracting cinemagoers in record numbers,” said FDA chief exec Mark Batey. The upbeat figures do not include admissions for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which banked a boffo $61.9 million in its first 11 days of release. “Transformers” and “The Simpsons Movie” go head to head this weekend.

Persistently rainy weather over the summer has helped boost box office as auds opt for indoor entertainment, while the cinema biz has not been hit by any major sports tournament, such as last year’s soccer World Cup.

Movie advertising by U.K. distribs has leapt 4% to $169.1 million for January-June vs. the same period in 2006.

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