Cinema attendance in Europe was up 4% in 2006, according to new research from the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Of the 25 member states of the EU, EAO tracks 20 countries, 17 of which sold more cinema tickets in 2006 than in 2005.

Eastern Europe showed the greatest leaps, with Lithuania's attendance up 98.1% to 2.4m; Slovakia up 54.3% to 3.4m; Estonia up 40.2% to 1.6m; Poland up 35.8% to 32m; Latvia up 22.7% to 2.1m; and the Czech Republic up 21.4% to 11.5m. Turkish admissions rose to the highest level since the early 1980s, up 27.8% year-on-year to 34.8m.

Among the larger markets, German admissions recovered in 2006 by rising 7.4% to 136.7m, although it was still down from highs such as 163.9m in 2002. France also recovered from a lackluster 2005, up 7.5% to 188.5m, marking the territory's second-best score since 1984.

However, some other larger markets suffered with overall admission as Spain fell 4.7% to 121.7m and the UK fell 4.9% to 156.6m. Local films fared poorly in the UK, down to a 19% market share from 2005's 33%.

France was one of the territories helped by strong performance by local films. French films had a 45% market share, almost even with the share of US films in France. It marked the highest domestic market share since 1984. Germany's local market share of 25.8% was the highest since 1991. Also showing local strength were Polish, Finnish, Slovenian and Czech films.

The Observatory is part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.