After a good run at the box office during September and October, admissions in the UK are back on track to reach at least 142 million by the year end - the highest level since 1973 according to the Cinema Advertising Association admissions monitor. But due to the huge growth of multiplex cinemas, these figures belie a dangerous underlying trend of falling admissions per screen (see chart).

In comparison to 1973 when average admissions per screen were 88,750, the number of screens in the UK has almost doubled. At the end of this year, admissions per screen will be just 45,000 - nearly 5,000 less than last year and a huge 22% less than five years ago.

But with these new screens demanding higher ticket prices, box office revenues from January to October are running around 10% ahead of 1999, according to Screen International. Revenues for the last two weekends in October were running at more than $15m with the release of Dinosaur and What Lies Beneath coinciding with the schools' half-term holiday and Halloween. The acclaimed British film Billy Elliot also continues to play well and has pulled in $16.5m after a month on release.

Year (Admissions) (Screens at year end) Avg admissions per screen

1973 (142m) (1,600) 88,750
1995 (115m) (2,003) 57,413
1999 (139m) (2,825) 49,225
2000* (142m) (3,090) 45,000

* forecast

Source: Cinema Advertising Association