Cinema Expo should have been a celebration with recordnumber of international films topping $100m international takings and a packedtrade show promising a host of new technology innovations.
But as the Amsterdam event closes today, there was adistinctly glass half-empty atmosphere among many exhibitors that contrastedwith the enthusiasm of the studio executives introducing their products.
The good news seems to be that the end of the year is prettyuniversally accepted as strong.
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, King Kong and TheChronicles Of Narnia promise big hits.
But for the rest of the year, concern remains that it lacksthe punch it seemed to offer on paper.
War Of The Worlds was generally admired rather than loved,and some believe that will be reflected in box-office performance.
'It's a little difficult for audiences,' suggested TarjaPilroinen of Finland's Savon Kinot Oy.
'I think it may start quite well during the first two weeksbut may struggle after that.'
Charlie And The Chocolate factory is another film thatattracted the 'difficult' label, that means nice film but where are the popcornsales'
'It may be a little too English. It's not like the HarryPotter books that people know everywhere,' said Sonia Morena of UCI Spain.
Others fear that Tim Burton's film may be a touch to offbeatand a little too scary for very young children and a bit too childlike forteens.
Mark Harris, of Nu Metro cinemas in South Africa, liked thelook of Michael Bay's The Island, which was screened in shortened form atCinema Expo but echoed the general feeling that the pre-Christmas fare lacked asoaraway certainty for the box office or a real first-rate sleeper.
Herbie Fully Loaded whipped up some enthusiasm, not leastbecause of the lack of competition for the under-12 feelgood family market.
A UK distributor reckoned it would take a solid $10m in theBritish market.
The decision to invite a group of thoroughly excitableschoolchildren to the screening was a smart piece of marketing.
A few of the trailers showed promise with big applause forJodie Foster-starrer Flight Plan, for example.
Few went as far as the Irish exhibitor, who wished to remainanonymous, who told Screendaily: 'It's time the studios pulled their fingerout. They can't expect to us to invest in cinemas if they can't provide theproduct.'
The general reaction seemed to be that what was on offerbefore Christmas was 'solid' - and solid won't provide the magic bulletto pull back early year disappointments in a number of European markets.