In what is likely to be oneof the biggest year-on-year deficits in Europe latest Polish figures for 2005show box office down 28.7% and admissions down 30% last year.

The figures from localmarket tracker ES Media show the territory suffered a massive 50% admissionsdrop in the first quarter due to the presence of The Passion Of The Christ and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of TheKing during the first quarter of 2004 when both opened in Poland and sold 4.7 million admissions between them. In2005's first quarter all titles combined sold only 6.04 million tickets.

Another blow came right atthe start of the second quarter when Pope John Paul II, who has Polishnationality, died on April 2.

However, the Pope's deathalso gave rise to the year's biggest box office hit. Storia di Carlo, a film based on Gian Franco Svidercoschi's bookabout the early life of Karol Wojtyla - who wouldbecome Pope John Paul II, sold 1.88 million admission for a gross of $7.5m (zloty24.4m). Released on June 17 by ITI Cinema, two days after its Krakow premiere, the drama easily proved the biggest success of the year. Itwas marginally bigger than the highest local film of 2004, Nigdy W Zyciu, which recorded 1.62 millionadmissions.

Unfortunately as the topgrossing film of the year it was a far cry from the 3.4 million admissions of Shrek 2 or 3.45 million of The Passion Of TheChrist which headed the 2004 table. Total admissions for the top ten filmsof 2005 were 8.75 million admissions compared to 16.5 million in 2004.

Animation and family filmsproved popular, as did historical epics. Madagascar was the highest Hollywood earner ahead of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and Star Wars: Episode III - RevengeOf The Sith. Chicken Little also made the top five, while Pooh's Heffalump Movie (at seven) is a titleunlikely to be seen in many country's top tens.

Kingdom Of Heaven and Alexanderboth made the top ten. Alexander'sentry comes despite a 2004 opening. It sold 438,400 tickets of its 687,450total admissions during 2005 for tenth place.

Top ten films Poland 2005

1 Storia Di Carlo (ITI Cinema) 1.9m $7.5m

2 Madagascar (UIP) 1.4m $5.9m

3 Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire(Warner Bros) 1.4m $5.7m*

4 Star Wars: Episode III (Cinepix) 0.93m $4.25m

5 Chicken Little (Forum Film) 0.76m $3.1m*

6 War Of The Worlds (UIP) 0.58m $2.7m

7 Pooh's Heffalump Movie (Forum Film) 0.57m $2.3m

8 Mr And Mrs Smith (Monolith) 0.45m $2.1m

9 Kingdom Of Heaven (Cinepix)0.42m $1.9m

10 Alexander (Monolith/SPI) 0.44m$1.88m'

* Still on release atyear-end.

' Opened in 2004, figuresfor 2005 sales only.

Source: ES Media