While Israel's overallcinema attendance figures for 2004 shows no significant increase over the lastcouple of years (approx. 9.5 million admissions), the local industry has made amajor leap forward, recording its best results for the last 20 years.

Less than 1% of the localaudience went to see home-grown films five years ago, now, this figure hascrossed the 13% mark, with over 1,250,000 tickets sold in 2004.

Despite the ongoingreticence of local distributors to release sales figures, some data has filteredout, indicating that Avi Nesher's ethnic comedy Turn Left At The End Of TheWorld, released six months ago and still running, has notched up 460,000admissions, second only to Shrek 2 (570,000), and quite a bit ahead ofthe last LOTR (405,000).

The Israeli Film Fund, themain body providing subsides for local production, claims that five of 2004'stop 20 films were home-made:

Ushpizin (157,000 in four months), Campfire, Israel'sentry to the foreign Oscars, released in September, follows Left At The EndOf The World with 146,000, Walk On Water is not far behind(140,000), the fifth being a local comedy Colombian Love. The SyrianBride, four weeks out, is on its way to join them, having already reached60,000 and still going strong.

As if to underline thisperformance and indicate their faith in the future of the industry, the threeleading exhibitors have just announced their intention to add at least 60 newscreens within the next three years.

Globus Group is constructinga new 30 screen complex near Rishon Le-Zion, near Tel Aviv. Following thetremendous success of its 22-screen "Cinema City" centre, United Kingannounced its intention to open a 25 screen multiplex in a new entertainmentpark, while Israeli Theatres is preparing to add 15 new screens to its existingsite in a Tel Aviv mall.

All in all, a sizableaddition to the 325 screens operating now in the country.