Australian cinemas have sold $240m (A$423m) worth of cinema tickets in the six months to June 30, a 6.7% rise on the same period last year and an indication that a growth pattern spanning more than a decade is not yet over.

Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia chair Mike Selwyn described it as a "very good" result, considering the "tremendous bounce back" experienced in 2001 after the Olympics Games held in Sydney at the end of the previous year.

He added that the rise was despite figures being marginally down in June, possibly because of the World Cup, but the outlook was buoyant for the rest of the year because of a strong product line-up.

"There is an argument that we are coming to the end of growth," said Selwyn, pointing to Australia's slow-down in cinema construction and the already high annual cinemagoing rate of five per head of population. "There has to be a plateau. ' We might start to just get inflationary growth."

The total gross in 2001 was a record $461m (A$812m), representing a rise of 17.8% on 2000, which saw box office revenues fall 2.1%, marking the first year in 13 in which there was no annual growth (although the Sydney Olympics may have been responsible for this blip). Admissions in 2001 were estimated at 92.5 million. Australia has a population of about 20 million.