AustraliaHs annual boxoffice gross looks certain to exceed A$900 million in 2004 for the first timeever although the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA)has not released the final figure, nor admission numbers, and may not until laterthis month.

Making significantcontributions to the 2004 tally were Shrek 2 (A$50.26m) and Lord OfThe Rings: The Return Of The King (A$49.37m). In fact, they were such bighitters that they are now, respectively, the second and third best performersever in Australia. The stand-out winner remains Titanic (A$57.63m).

A proper analysis of theAustralian business in 2004 will not be available until final figures areknown. The final 2003 gross of A$865,782,000, for example, was about 2.5% morethan 2002 but admissions actually dropped.

Getting annual revenuegrowth only through ticket price rises had only happened once previously in 25years and that was in 1979, although annual gross and admissions has dippedconcurrently four times in that period, most recently in 2000. That year sawthe Olympic Games staged in Sydney, Australiaas biggest cinema market, and theintroduction of a goods and services tax.

The MPDAA announced todaythat all proceeds from the sale of cinema tickets on Sunday January 23 will goto Care Australia to aid victims of the tsunami.