Film Distributor Association chief uses Yearbook launch to celebrate strong 2009, calls for new social contract on copyright.

Last year was “outstanding” for cinema, according to Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) president Lord David Puttnam. He made the comments as he launched the FDA Yearbook 2010 today (March 11).

“2009 was an outstanding year for cinema in pretty well every respect,” Puttnam said. He added that UK admissions reached a seven-year high of 173.5 million while UK box office receipts hit an all-time high at $1.6bn (£1.06m) in ticket sales in the UK and Ireland. London alone accounted for 40 million admissions - also a record.

He also pointed out that every £1 spent at the box office leads to a further £2 going into the British economy thanks to the extra spending involved in a trip to the cinema.

Puttnam also used the launch to call for a new “social contract” with consumers to guard against copyright theft. “The concept of copyright has never been as challenged as it is today yet it remains the fundamental foundation on which the revenues that enable future investment to be generated and the means by which every citizen gains legitimate access to culture and entertainment,” Puttnam said.

Pointing out that the cost of the UK’s “black market” runs into billions of pounds a year, Puttnam stated that he didn’t “believe for a second…that today’s young generation of consumers is inherently criminal.”

He suggested that the concept of intellectual property should be “embedded inextricably into the school curriculum.”

He went on to warn distributors to plan ahead for 2012, when the combined effect of the UEFA European football championship and the London Olympics is likely to put at least a temporary dent in cinema-going numbers. He suggested an industry-wide promotional initiative to run immediately after the Olympics to remind audiences seduced by sport that the cinema still had plenty to excite them.

The FDA Yearbook also revealed that 503 films were released in the UK in 2009, a dip of 5% from 2008, and that 92 suppliers released one or more films into the UK theatrical market.

The top 10 claimed a market share of 92%, while the top 20 accounted for 99%.