Australians spent $672m (A$946m) on going to the movies in 2008, making it the second best year on record in revenue terms.

The figures released today by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) show a six per cent year on year increase from 2007. They are also four per cent higher than the previous record year of 2004.

MPDAA chair Stephen Basil-Jones, who is also head of Sony Pictures in Australia, highlighted the factors behind 2008's success:

'The positive factor underlining this record is that it was driven by a broad range of films that appealed to the young and the old, and to males and females alike - and sometimes to all of them at once,' said Basil-Jones.

The top grossing film in 2008 was The Dark Knight, which had a special connection to the territory because of the presence of the late Australian-born actor Heath Ledger.

It attracted $32.5m (A$45.8m) in ticket sales which also earned it fourth place on the chart of highest grossing films of all time after Titanic, Shrek 2 and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.

The highest grossing Australian film was its namesake, Australia. In its sixth week in release for Fox, ending on January 7, it sold nearly $2m (A$2.9m) worth of tickets to 313 screens, bringing its total gross to $21m (A$29.8m).

Only twice in the last two decades has Australian annual gross box office fallen year-on-year, although admission numbers have been less consistent.

As is usual, the MPDAA have not as yet released their 2008 estimates of admissions.

Top 10 films 2008

Film, distributor, gross US$ million (A$ million)

The Dark Knight, Warner Bros, $34m (A$ 47.8m)

Mamma Mia! Universal, $22.5m (A$ 31.7m)

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Paramount, $ 20.8m (A$ 29.3m)

Quantum Of Solace, Sony, $20.55m (A$ 28.9m)

Sex And The City, Roadshow, $19m (A$ 26.9m)

Australia, Fox, $ 19m (A$ 26.9m) *

Kung Fu Panda, Paramount $18.4m (A$ 25.8m)

I Am Legend, Roadshow, $16.5m (A$ 23.2m)

Hancock, Sony, $14.6m (A$ 20.6m)

Iron Man, Paramount, $14.2m (A$ 20m)

* Still on release