Early first-quarter box office figures show little sign of a bounce-back in most territories - although local-language product has eased the pain.

Nielsen EDI statistics show a marginal year-on-year dip in its first 12 weekly figures for North America (-2%), UK/Ireland (-8%), Spain (-2%) and Germany (-3%).

France is proving the big exception with a 17.9% rise year-on-year in its first 12 weeks.

Figures from Cinetel in Italy show admissions figures down 3.25%, while in Denmark box office is down 4% according to the MPEAA.

The strength of local films has been the key sustaining factor for the market. Comedy Les Bronzes 3: Les Amis Pour La Vie sold 10.3m tickets and was the top performer of the first three months in France, where local films accounted for three of the top five films.

Italy has similarly seen local product make up three of the year's top five, lead by Carlo Verdone's comedy Il Mio Miglior Nemico. Local films enjoyed a 34.6% market share, up 13% from the same period of 2005.

Pedro Almodovar's Volver qualified for Spain's top eight films in the first quarter despite being on release for just two full weeks by the close of the period.

The biggest gainer has been Poland, where local successes make up four of the top 10 films of the year to date, has enjoyed an 84% year-on-year rise in Q1, although the comparison is to an awful start to 2005. This year admissions reached 11.2 million compared to just 6.04 million during 2005's first quarter.

The Netherlands were the big losers with the Dutch Film Distributors' Association recording an 11.4% drop in box office, down to $40.6m (Euro 33.8m) from $45.9m (Euro 38.2m).

The lack of Hollywood power has been the other big story of the quarter.

In 2005, six films grossed over $100m internationally during the first 12 weeks - including 2004 holdovers Ocean's Twelve, National Treasure and Meet The Fockers and new wide releases The Aviator, Hitch and Constantine. In the first quarter of 2006, only two films have crossed the mark, holdovers King Kong ($107m) and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe ($202m).

The figures will be of wide concern, especially considering that many are down on last year, which was itself largely down on 2004. However, the losses in manu territories are only small and can be accounted for in part by the later date for Easter.

In 2005, Easter fell on March 27 leading to films looking to exploit school holidays or, as in the case of the UK, extended national holiday weekends to open in mid to late March. This year Easter falls on April 16.

The first major title to release for the period was Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, which drew stunning results in its domestic and international starts at the weekend, grossing more than $110m in three days, but the success came as the first quarter closed. Had Easter fallen in March as last year it is likely the small drop-offs seen this year would not exist.