The latest figures from the Cinema Advertising Association show that UK cinema is bucking the media downturn, with 2008 marking a bumper year for admissions.
UK cinema admissions have grown 1.1% year-on-year. They stand at 164.2 million for the year, up from 162.4 million in 2007.
2008 also marked the highest summer cinema admissions for 40 years, with the UK's cinema venues drawing in over 50 million visitors between June and August last year, an increase of 5.6% year on year. The trimester is the most successful summer period since 1969.
July was the best performing month with over 21 million cinema admissions, while November enjoyed the largest year-on-year increase with admissions 40% higher than November 2007.
Phil Clapp, CEA chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitor's Association said 'I think by any measure it's a strong performance, particularly in light of the broader economic situation.'
He put the results down to a combination of factors including the calibre of films on offer and the range of films available in 2008. 'They catered for every conceivable taste. There is no denying that in time of economic strife, people turn to the cinema to get away from everyday woes.'
Titles that added to the exhibitors' coffers included Mamma Mia! The Movie , released on July 10, the highest grossing film in the UK with £69.2m and Quantum of Solace, released on October 31, which broke the record for the highest opening weekend film in the UK with £15.4m.
Clapp said that the advent of sing-along versions of Mamma Mia! The Movie and High School Musical 3: Senior Yearserved to promote their longevity.
Clapp added 'Cinema remains an affordable leisure option. I don't think anyone is complacent but I'm confident that cinema will remain the place to be in 2009.'