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Total theater admissions in Western Europe edged up 0.7% in 2002 to 931.4 million, according to provisional stats unveiled here Thursday by EU exhib initiative Media Salles.

But Europe’s top five territories revealed radically different results.

The U.K. drove the Euro tix rise, with sales up a weighty 13% to 175.9 million.

Italy also climbed, though by a more gentle 3%, to 108.3 million admissions at hardtops, repping some 78% of the market.

In France, Europe’s biggest admissions market, ticket sales were down 0.7% to 184.5 million.

Spain slumped 4% in 2002 to 140.7 million. Germany plunged 8% to 163.9 million.

Media Salles’ results suggests that fluctuations in European B.O are driven increasingly less by ongoing multiplexing, which is slowing in many countries, and increasingly by the perfs of key pics, which are often local productions.

Per Media Salles’ secretary general Elisabetta Brunella, German B.O. dropped in 2002 “because of the lack of the factor that underpinned the leap forward in 2001: a domestic production capable of repeating the exceptional results achieved by ‘Manitu’s Shoe,’ which sold over 10.5 million tickets.”

“The enormous success of two films with a ‘British flavor’ — ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ and ‘Die Another Day’ — certainly lies behind the record result” in the U.K., she adds.

Save for Norway (down 3.5% to 12.0 million tix), B.O. was generally up in smaller territories in Western Europe.

But in nine territories for which figures are available in Eastern Europe, tix sales fell 5% to 99 million in 2002.