The 3.8 million cinemavisits narrowly took the record for highest admissions in a three-day weekendperiod since modern records started in the mid-1980s.
"It was a phenomenalweekend," Mark Batey, FDA'schief executive told Screen International.
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire - which smashed box-office records in the territorywith a $25.6m (£14.9m) gross from nearly 1,500 screens at 535 locations -accounted for the lion's share with three million of the tickets sold.
After a strong October, the
According to box-office datacompany Nielsen EDI, after the fourth Harry Potter's first weekend the gap hadalready closed to 3%.
Official October figures for
The record admissions werenot purely down to Goblet Of Fire's stunning turn, however.
Despite the massive roll outof the Warner Bros film having an expected knock on effect for other familytitles Nanny McPheeand Wallace & Gromit:The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (which still didsolid numbers in their fifth and sixth weeks respectively) adult alternativesheld up superbly.
"It isn't just that onemovie and it never is," says Batey. "It's aboutdifferent layers coming together to draw in a mixed audience. One movie isn'tenough."
He cites 2002's still modernadmissions record (175.9 million, compared to 167.3 million in 2003 and 171.3million last year) as being a result of mixed fare late in the year, with thelikes of Die Another Day, Harry PotterAnd The Chamber Of Secrets, 28 Days Later and The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers amongst the titles on offer.
"Cinemas are hungry monstersand they need a variety of product to feed them."
He also sees the heavyUK-feel of current offerings as being a key draw. Harry Potter, The Constant Gardener, Nanny McPhee and Wallace& Gromit are all
Another very British titlelaunches this week in the shape of Stephen Frears'
"We feel we're targeting amarket which is largely uncatered for," says IanGeorge, managing director Pathe Distribution. "Wefeel the themes and style of the film distinguishes it and we are hopefullyselling the concept of a really fun night out for a broad audience."
With its pre and duringWorld War II setting and lead cast of Dench andHoskins, Mrs Henderson Presents willunquestionably appeal to an older audience but, far from being a concern, Pathe embraces this potential.
"A film that skews to anolder audience is not necessarily the handicap that it used to be," explainsGeorge."In the past five years there has been a 38% growth in the 45 yearplus audience, fuelled by such films as CalendarGirls and
With Mrs Henderson Presents opening in a week of five wide releasein the territory and December's mammoth slate to come the
"With a really strong fourthquarter [the