UK box-office revenues for 2008 saw a 5% increase on the previous year, according to figures released by the UK Film Council (UKFC).
The figures, collated for the UKFC by Nielsen EDI, show that takings at the box office in the UK & Ireland totalled £949.5m in 2008, compared with £907m in 2007, making it the highest year on record.
Several of the year's top films made significant contributions to the total box office, most notably the number one movie Universal's Mamma Mia! The Movie whose performance surpassed even the most enthusiastic expectations to become the highest-grossing film of all time in the territory, with £69.2m since its July opening, breaking the record that James Cameron's Titanic had held since 1997.
Bond film Quantum Of Solace also made its mark, grossing over £50m for SPRI, while The Dark Knight amassed £48.7m for Warner Bros.
Paramount Picture's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa enjoyed good end-of-year business, taking just under £20m, and denying Iron Man a top-10 finish.
The overall box office did not appear to suffer from the absence of the latest film in Warner Bros' franchise Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, which was initially scheduled for a November 2008 release but was pushed back to July 17 this coming summer.
While box-office sales saw an increase however, total film production spend in the UK fell by 23% from £753m in 2007 to £578.2m, with the number of individual productions also dropping from 126 to 111 in 2008.
Spend on productions that the UKFC classify as 'indigenous' (those features made by a UK production company and shot fully or partially in the UK) saw an increase of 21.5% with 66 productions, including The Boat That Rocked and Dorian Gray, amounting to £192m of expenditure.
It would appear that the economic downturn emerged too late in the year to affect those independent productions shooting in 2008, but similar productions may find that it becomes harder to finance in the coming year.
Inward investment spend, those productions financed externally but made fully or partially in the UK, dropped by 35% to £338. The UKFC pointed to several factors that have affected these productions including the WGA strike earlier in the year postponing productions and an unfavourable exchange rate.
As reported previously in Screen, co-productions in particular saw a downturn with a £48m UK spend on 20 productions, compared with £72m on 28 productions the previous year.