Cinema attendance in the European Union's 15 member states dropped by 5% in 2003, according to first estimates from the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Provisional data shows that admissions in eight of the biggest EU states fell to 890.5m last year. Germany registered the steepest drop of -9.1% to 149 million. The only country to show an increase was Ireland, where admissions rose 0.6% to 17.4 million

The EAO also records figures for a number of the countries that join the EU in May. Provisional date for Poland shows that attendance declined by 13.9% to 22.3 million in 2003. The Estonian market also fell black significantly (-18.2% to 1.27 million) after a very good year in 2002.

However, Latvia and Lithuania, both showed increases in attendance. Latvia rose 1.7% to 1.09 million, while Lithuania registered a 3.3% increase to 1.44 million.