U.K. sees greatest rise -- 14.5% increase

Cinema admissions in Europe are resisting the recession, according to figures released by the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Ticket sales across the big five territories were up 3.8% in the first half of this year vs. a year earlier, hitting 348 million ducats. This is a good indicator for the overall European trend, the Observatory said.

Rise is driven by a 14.5% increase in the U.K., its strongest result for seven years thanks to “Slumdog Millionire,” 3-D titles “Bolt” and “Monsters vs Aliens,” plus a good response to action releases.Sales in Spain and Germany were also up, making up for declines in France and Italy. Gallic dip is relative to record results in 2008 driven by local hit “Welcome to the Sticks.”

Smaller territories showing strong growth include Sweden with 27%, Poland with 16% and the Netherlands with 12%.

Kudos for best performing film in the first half goes to “Angels and Demons.” Pic appears in the top 10 in all five major markets, topping the charts in Germany, Italy and Spain.

Other films appearing in multiple top 10s include “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Gran Torino” and “Fast and Furious.”

In related news, helmer Christian Poveda’s documentary “La vida loca” will become one of the first features commercially distributed in Europe by satellite when it opens in France on Sept. 30.

Digital cinema company Arts Alliance Media is handling the technical side for distributor Cine Classics.

Pic has been beamed to 19 theaters belonging to Circuit George Raymond Cinemas.

Exploring street gangs in El Salvador, “La vida loca” will have considerable local buzz following Poveda’s murder in El Salvador this month.

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