The UK box office in 2004 was the highest on record,according to final figures compiled by Nielsen EDI.

2004 finished 3.5% up with £838.7m compared to2003's £810.04m. This is ahead of 2002's previous recordgross of £812.2m

Admissions totals for December have yet to be fullycalculated, though latest Carlton Screen Advertising (CSA) figures say that therewere 156.7 million admissions until the end of November, up 6% on the sameperiod of 2003.

However, admissions figures are unlikely to finish as strongas 2002's 30-year high of 176 million (which matched 1971'sfigures). CSA estimates that 2004 could finish on approximately 174 million,which would be a 4% rise on 2003. It is of course a far cry from the admissionsresults seen in pre and early television days of the 1930s, '40s and'50s with 1946's 1,635 million admissions the peak year.

Unfortunately the lack of a Lord Of The Rings film this December weakened the end of the year,with box office takings in the month 26% down year-on-year. This slip will bereflected in the admissions year-on-year totals for the month as well.

A triumphant second half of the year led by Shrek 2 saw UIP finish as the top distributor with a 29.8%market share and box office totals of £253.4m. This was double that ofnearest rival Warner Bros which led the pack at the end of the first sixmonths.

Independent distributors saw a strong year with MomentumPictures and Optimum Releasing both scoring their biggest ever films with LostIn Translation (£10.1m) and Fahrenheit9/11 (£6.5m) respectively. Thesesuccesses are largely based on one or two films, however. Lost InTranslation awarded Momentum with 54.5% ofthe company's year end total gross while Eternal Sunshine OfThe Spotless Mind accounted for another27.3%.

Michael Moore's record-breaking documentary represents70.6% of Optimum's year end total. Similarly Icon FilmDistribution's The Passion Of The Christ represented 57.6% of the distributor final gross and OpenWater gave Redbus 61.3% of final totals.

Pathe Distribution saw a series of strong independent andforeign language hits throughout the year led by Bride And Prejudice's £5.2m which accounted for 22.1% of thecompany's year totals. The year started well for Pathe with awards seasoncontender Girl With A Pearl Earring (£3.8m)and continued right up to end of year foreign-language success HouseOf Flying Daggers which grossed £1.7min its first eight days and should continue to perform well into the new year.Other notable foreign language titles included The Motorcycle Diaries(£2.7m), Bad Education (£1.35m) and Two Brothers (£1.3m).

UK TOP TWENTY FILMS (Friday Jan 2 2004 -Sunday Jan 2 2005)
Title / (Nationality) / Dist Release date /Total 2004 Gross

1 Shrek 2 (US) UIPJuly 2 £48,104,138
2 Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (US-UK) Warner Bros May 31 £46,077,489
3 Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason(UK-US-Fr) UIP Nov 12 £35,089,179*
4 Spider-Man 2 (US) Sony PicturesReleasing Int'l July 15 £26,717,026
5 The Incredibles (US) BVI Nov 1928,637,355*
6 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (US-NZ) Entertainment Dec 17, 2003 £25,565,935'
7 The Day After Tomorrow (US)20th Fox May 27 £25,212,419
8 Shark Tale (US) UIP Oct 15£22,814,450*
9 Troy (US) Warner Bros May 14£18,003,670
10 I, Robot (US) 20th Fox Aug 6£17,981,834
11 Scooby-Doo 2 (US) WarnerBros Apr 2 £16,490,226
12 Van Helsing (US) UIP May 7£15,147,178
13 Starsky & Hutch (US) BVIMarch 12 £12,601,186
14 The Last Samurai (US) WarnerBros Jan 9 £11,897,193
15 The Bourne Supremacy (US) UIPAug 13 £11,555,913
16 The Passion Of The Christ (US)Icon Film Dist March 12 £11,078,861
17 School Of Rock (US) UIP Feb 6£10,498,167
18 The Village (US) BVI Aug 20 £10,312,168
19 Lost In Translation (US) Momentum Jan 9 £10,057,131
20 Dodgeball (US) 20th Fox Aug 27£10,030,463
* Still on release at end of year.
' Lotr: Return Of The King opened in 2003 and grossed £61,014,993,table shows portion of gross taken in 2004 only.
Source: Screen International

UK TOP TEN DISTRIBUTORS (Friday Jan 2-Sunday Jan 2)
Distributor / Market Share / Total YearGross

1 UIP 29.8% £253.4m
2 Warner Bros 14.7% £125.1m
3 BVI 14.5% £122.9m
4 20th Fox 10.7% £91.2m
5 Sony 10% £85.1m
6 Entertainment 7.9% £67.4m
7 Pathe 2.8% £23.4m
8 Icon 2.3% £19.2m
9 Momentum 2.2% £18.4m
10 Optimum/Redbus 1.1% each £9.3m/£9m
Source: Nielsen EDI