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Cinema attendance in the U.K. topped 177 million in 2018, the highest number since 1970. Box office held firm at £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through the year as 10 movies crossed the £30 million threshold in the year. That compares with six films in 2017.

After a sweltering summer in the U.K. and a strong performance by England’s team at the soccer World Cup, the figures are impressive amid a mixed picture elsewhere in Europe.

Industry experts said a diverse slate of big-budget films piqued audience interest, and investment in infrastructure – more than a dozen new theaters opened in 2018 and many others were refurbished – propelled Britain to a banner movie-going year.

The admissions number had been tipped to hit a decades-long high, but was still welcomed by the industry. It was up almost 4% year-on-year.

“These fantastic figures for 2018 confirm that the U.K. cinema sector remains in extraordinary health,” said Phil Clapp of the U.K. Cinema Assn. “The U.K. public has responded with overwhelming enthusiasm both to the breadth of the film slate and the quality and range of different cinema offers delivered by UKCA members across the country.”

Clapp added that confidence is high for 2019 given that “investment will continue, complemented by a large number of exceptional movies across the year.”