The weekends ofAug 16-18 and 23-25 were the worst in terms of admissions and revenues inSerbia and Montenegro since 1997. The first saw ticket sales of 11,872($31,249) for the whole territory, while the latter had even less: only 11,120spectators who spent $29,145. Spider-Man2 sold only 4,744 tickets in its second weekend,

Part of thereason for this huge decline is the relentless increase in film piracy, whichcurrently accounts for around 92% of the market, with copies of the latestHollywood titles being sold on the streets for as little as 50 cents.

This spring theAnti-Piracy Association of Serbia and the Association of Film Distributorsformed the National Film Centre of Serbia under the auspices of the Ministry ofCulture and proposed a new anti-piracy law which should be passed by Parliamentin November.

However, it maybe too late for some distributors and exhibitors who are currently sufferinggreat losses. And there still remains the problem of enforcement of the law asno official body has yet been formed.

Summer has alwaysbeen the slowest season in the territory, due to vacations and the lack ofair-conditioning in most cinemas, but this recent steep decline is a sign thatthere are deeper and more serious problems facing the industry.

If the Serbiangovernment does not act on behalf of the National Film Centre, Serbia andMontenegro could easily enter the MPAA's "watch-list" which includes Russia,the Ukraine and China. And that could signal the start of the slow death ofSerbian cinema.