Summer cinema admissions highest since 1969

LONDON - Cinema takings in the UK have hit a new high with the latest figures showing last summer's admissions rose to 1969's record level.

According to the Film Distributors' Association UK admissions rose 1.1% to 164.2m in 2008 with box office takings up 3.7% to £854.4m, thanks largely to the popularity of films such as 'Mamma Mia' and 'The Dark Knight'.

The recession has done little to affect cinema attendance so far while falling media costs have also saved distributors money marketing their films -- £305m was spent last year promoting 531 films, down £9m on 2007.

Cinema's success in the last 12 months is largely thanks to some big budget franchises including the Batman film, 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' and Bond movie 'Quantum of Solace', which made £51m in the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this year 'Mamma Mia' overtook 'Titanic' as the UK's most successful film release ever, taking £69.2m.

Expectations for admissions and box office ratings this year are already high, with Oscar winner 'Slumdog Millionaire' making an estimated £25m and comic book adaptation 'The Watchmen' taking more than $55m in the US box office this weekend alone.

The unveiling of 3D technology is also expected to boost cinema ratings in 2009, with more than a dozen films planned in the format. However, the films require special glasses and cinema chains must install special projectors to play the films.