The Media Salles Forum at Cine Expo in Amsterdam presented evidence of a link between the increase in box office in some European territories and an increase in home-made films.

Its Focus On Europe seminar : 'A Panorama of Cinemagoing in Europe in 2002: Marketing Strategies by Exhibition Companies for building communities through Loyalty Programs' looked at the fact that box office over the year for Europe, at 931m admissions, only fluctuated 0.8% from 2001.

Looking at the figures more closely however, it emerged that in the five European nations which registered more than 100m admissions last year, Italy and the UK saw an increase in box office of 2.7% and 12.8% respectively while France, Spain and Germany saw decreases of 0.7%, 4.2% and 7.9%.

Elisabetta Brunella, Secretary Generalof Media Salles, said: "If you look at the number of tickets lost and gained the gains in Italy and The UK offset exactly the losses in Germany, France and Spain."

Dr Joachim PH Wolff, chairman of the NFC Resreach Foundation, in the Netherlands, and scientific adviser to Media Salles European yearbook, then explained how he had analysed nine countries - not including the UK - where the total % of homegrown films is known, since 1996 until 2001.

He pointed out that there did seem to be a general correlation emerging. "There is reason to say that the success in one year of domestic films is very important to the total admissions realised.

Brunella pointed to the fact that in the UK, four films which were either British or perceived by audiences to be British - Die Another Day, Harry Potter 2, Bend It Like Beckham and About A Boy -accounted for more than 15% of the total admissions.

The seminar also looked at ways of retaining customer loyalty in several European territories.

Michael Chalmer, head of marketing of Danish distributors Nordisk in Denmark, explained how its loyalty-based website called BioZonen ("CineMAzONE") now has more than 90,000 members.

Under a loyalty scheme, those who book more than five tickets in 90 days are entitled to extra benefits such as sneak preview screenings. As the biggest Danish distributor, the company sells 30 million tickets each year, accounting for 45% of the Danish total.

Brain Jones, man director, of EuoPlex Suisee, Switzerland's second biggest distributor, uses a loyalty card scheme where members charge their cards with credits giving the company money up front before the choice of films is made. "It is an incredible boost to our treasury," he said of the $1.5m (Fr 2m) currently stored on cards. At present there are 80,000 of the cards in circulation, which entitle users to $1.50 (Fr 2) off a ticket price

Kjell A Orseth, managing director of Filmweb in Norway, spoke of the website, which acts as a portal for ticket sales, show times, film information and press downloads Set up as collaborative service between Norway's distributors and exhibitors back in 1997, it plays on Norway's high take-up of Internet use.

"It is the most visited entertainment site in Norway, including football and sport," he said, adding that it now has more than 3 million page impressions per month and sells more than 1,300 tickets per day.