After an uncertain start to the year, things are finally looking up for the UK's exhibition sector.
According to the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) admissions in April were the highest for 26 years, averaging 3.26m ticket sales a week. This, says the CAA, could translate into 148m admissions by the end of the year in the UK, up from 142.5m in 2000.
Prospects for the rest of the year are helped by the good volume of high profile releases scheduled for the rest of the year. That may go some way to cheering circuits hit by overbuilding and economic insecurity.
April's growth is largely attributable to the phenomenal success of Bridget Jones's Diary, which was released mid-way through the month, grossing a burly $42m. Admissions during April were bulked up further by strong showings from family-oriented pictures such as Rugrats In Paris: The Movie, which took $10.2 (£7.2m) and Spy Kids, which pocketed $7.38m (£5.2m).
Altogether, April's admissions were up 39.6% on March, and 6.8% year on year.
The optimism generated by April's admissions looks set to increase, given that Bridget appears to herald a summer of bankable, anticipated box office fare like The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor. And with rosy release schedules for autumn and winter - notably with AI, Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings - UK exhibitors may have something to smile about at last.