Russia and CIS box office grossed $830m in 2008, a 46.9% year on year rise from 2007's $565m, according to Russian Film Business Today.

The main reasons behind the increase are a significant rise in admissions combined with a considerable hike in ticket prices.

Admissions for 2008 totalled a record 123.9m, a 16.2% rise on 2007's 106.6m. This is only the second time admissions have exceeded the 100m mark in the post-Soviet era, the first being 2007's 106.6m haul.

However, not all increases have been positive, with an average ticket price going up by 26.4%, from $5.3 in 2007 to $6.7 in 2008.

A total of 355 films were released in 2008, only five more than in 2007. However, 2008 boasted high grosses from a number of huge hits including Madagascar: Escape2 Africa and Irony Of Fate 2.

111 of the 355 films were in limited release of no more than 30 screens, which is the second time in 2 years that the number of CIS limited releases exceeded 100, following 2007's record of 109 films.

Meanwhile CIS distributors marked another record with, for the first time ever, four of the top distribution companies grossing more than $100m.

UPI took the largest slice of the market share (24.5%), with a haul of £203.5m, a 112% increase from previous year.

UPI's most successful foreign release Madagascar: Escape2 Africa, was also the highest grossing animated film in CIS box office history, when it took in $40.8m. drawing 7,660,278 admissions.

Century Fox CIS took second place (18.7%), hitting the jackpot in January 2008 with its ($5m budget) Soviet remake/sequel Irony Of Fate 2. The film grossed $49.92m making it the highest grossing Russian film in history.

Russian Caro Premier/Caroprokat came third with 15.2% of the share, followed by BVSPR (14.6%) and Central Partnership/CP Classic (7.8%).

Russian films secured 25.5% of the total $830m box office market share, the rest being taken by foreign productions.

The share for Russian films (including co-productions with other countries) has gone up by 42.4% year on year. A total of 78 Russian films grossed $211.5m, compared to 2007's result of $148.5m.

Whether this trend will continue in 2009 though is uncertain.

UPI's ex-CEO Eugene Beginin now of Profit Cinema International said, 'I do not think the number of foreign films shown in Russia will fall, whereas the number of Russian releases will definitely deteriorate'.

Central Partnership's Yulia Kulikova said, '2009 will see the rise of 'film-events', whereas middling product will find it hard to make it to the cinemas'.