After making its market debut at Hong Kong Filmart last year, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) has announced that the box office for local films jumped by 40% to $29.7m (PHP1.44bn) in 2006. It was the first increase in box office revenues for seven years.

The biggest hit was Star Cinema's horror movie Sukob which grossed more than $4m (PHP200m) to become the highest-grossing local film of all time. Other local films crossing the $2m (PHP100m) mark include Don't Give Up On Us, You Are The One and Close To You.

The total box office reached $91m (PHP4.41bn), up by 5.67% from 2005's $86.3m (PHP 4.177m). However, the box-office takings for MPA titles dropped by 4.9% to $48.9m (PHP 2.370bn) from $51.4m (PHP 2.492bn) and for non-MPA foreign titles dropped by 8% to $12.5m (PHP 607m) from $13.6m (PHP 660m) in 2006.

Meanwhile at Filmart, Star Cinema is presenting the market debut of Jose Javier Reyes's Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. The romantic comedy which opened last December grossed a whopping $3.7m (PHP 180m), almost equaling Sukob.

'The spectacular box office growth for local films reflects the rise in number of quality films,' said FDCP's Christine Dayrit. 'In 2006, the cinema evaluation board gave an A or B rating to 32 films, compared to just 20 in the year before.'

This year's Filipino delegation included 16 companies such as Star, Regal Films, Viva Films and GMA Films.