The one ray oflight for the European box office at the end of the first quarter, the UK, has also dimmedsignificantly.

Up 13%year-on-year at the close of the first quarter, the UK was the toast of Europe,looking rosy for a potential record year.

Now, however,second-quarter figures closed out last Thursday (June 30) show that for thefirst time since early January, the UK has dipped into negative figures.

The territorystands 1% down year-on-year going into the second half with a total gross of$650.2m (£367.1m) according to data trackers Nielsen EDI.

It's not an insurmountabledeficit, but a worrying number when considering how unexpectedly buoyant it hadproven just three months ago.

A poor April thatsaw disappointing performances from titles such as Sahara, Guess Who, The Ring2, The Wedding Date and Cursed ended 21% down against April 2004. May sawrecovery with strong showings from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy andStar Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith, with good back-up from Kingdom OfHeaven, top finish 17% up, but not enough to counteract April's loss.

However, June sawthe gap really widen when without the power of Potter (Harry Potter And ThePrisoner Of Azkaban grossed $72.2m [£40.7m] during June 2004). The monthfinished 29% down ($86.5m) against June 2004 leaving the year slightly behind.

War Of The Worlds'$15.3m (£8.6m), including previews, is certainly a good start for the secondhalf of the year but pales in comparison to last year's opening July launch, Shrek 2 ($28.7m opening weekend including previews).

* For full analysis of this year's box-office prospects, see this week's Screen International.