Cinema admissions in the UK this year could outstrip all other European countries for the first time, according to industry estimates.

According to the latest research in France, local box-office continued its decline in June with a staggering 21% drop-off from 2002's June figures.

June saw 11.3 million tickets sold - bringing 2003's first six months' total to 87.8 million tickets sold, down 9.3% from the same period last year.

France's National Cinema Center (CNC) now estimates that overall ticket sales will be down on the year by 6.7% to roughly 175 million.

Meanwhile, the UK's Cinema Advertising Association is predicting that total cinema admissions for 2003 will reach 180 million. Earlier predictions were as high as 182 million, but disappointing results during the first quarter prompted a revision.

The UK had already overtaken Germany in total admissions during 2002, but the cinephile French market always seemed impossible to equal - let alone beat.

In terms of box-office revenue the UK is already the strongest European market with 2002 seeing a total of $1.3bn in ticket sales. Germany and France both had similar totals of $1bn.

However, last year UK admissions stood at 176 million compared to 185.1 million in France and 163.9 million in Germany.