Stark polarities are revealed in the UK Film Council's first yearbook, which aims to present the most comprehensive analysis ever of film in the UK.

The report highlights the polarity in box-office winners and losers, with the top 20 releases hoovering up 60% of the box-office despite accounting for only 5.4% of the number of films released.

While the market became more crowded as the number of films released in the UK and Ireland rose 5% to 369, 73% of releases accounted for only 5.6% of the box-office. Opening weekends accounted for 24% of the box-office, a rise of 5% on 2001.

"2002 was a strong year for high-grossing films," the report states, citing Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and Monsters, Inc. amongst six 2002 films which entered the list of top 20 box-office performers between 1993 and 2002.

The polarity was also marked in terms of distributors, with the top six taking 90% of the market.

In exhibition, the six largest companies, topped by Odeon Cinemas, operated almost 70% of the UK's 3,258 screens. Only 5% of screens were dedicated to specialist programming, while 70% of screens were in multiplexes.

The most positive news for the industry as a whole was that cinema admissions were at their highest for 30 years. Box-office receipts in the UK hit £755m, 17% up on 2001.

By contrast, the US box-office increased 13% during the same period. The DVD sector boomed, with sales increasing 111%.

"This report paints an encouraging picture of film in the UK today but shows that there is also room for improvement in several key areas," said UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward.

US films dominated the box-office, accounting for 43% of all releases and more than 73% of the box-office. Of the top 20 titles, 13 were US, excluding co-productions, including Monsters, Inc. at number three and Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clones at number four. The top film, Entertainment Film Distributors' Lord Of The Rings, which was classified as a US-New Zealand title, racked up £56.47m.

Harry Potter, which the report classifies as UK-US, scored the biggest ever opening weekend with £18.9m including previews. With £54.65, the boy wizard was narrowly the overall number two film at the box-office after Lord Of The Rings.

Harry Potter's status as a UK-US title was a massive boost for the overall performance of UK films. Including such co-productions, local films accounted for 21% of the number of film releases and almost 25% of the box-office.

Indeed, one bright spot was that US-UK co-productions performed particularly well, representing 6% of all releases but 18% of the box-office. Another strong US-UK title was Die Another Day, at number five overall with £35.98m so far.

Highlighting the heavy US presence in the UK production sector, the US accounted for 98% of inward investment in feature production, with four films accounting for 78%.

Shockingly, however, commercial broadcaster ITV1 screened only two UK films less than eight years old last year, while fellow commercial station Channel 5 came in with just one.

Channel 4 was the biggest network broadcaster of recent UK films, airing 31 features compared to 26 on BBC1 and BBC2 combined.

Foreign-language films took a mere 2.2% of box-office earnings, despite accounting for 36% of releases. Hindi was the dominant foreign language in terms of both numbers of releases and market share, with Devdas topping the foreign language chart with £1.74m.

Y Tu Mama Tambien came in second with £1.62m, while Talk To Her was third on £1.41m. In all, 55 Hindi-language films were released for a total gross of £8.2m, or 1% of the total box-office.

The next biggest presence from a single non-English language country was France, with 27 releases and 0.4% of the total box-office.

The Film Council was upbeat about the fact that more than one in four people visited the cinema at least once a month in 2002, saying that "we are a nation of cinema-goers".

However, it pointed to several disproportionate factors: for the top 20 films at the box-office, 69% of audiences were under 35. Of adults aged over 55, 41% never go to the cinema at all.

One unifying factor was comedy, including romantic comedy, which took the biggest box-office share of any single genre with 26.5% from 84 releases, representing 22.8% of all releases.

Fantasy was the next most popular with 14.2% from only six films, although the report notes that Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings substantially inflated the category.

Action films were next with 12.5% from 30 releases, while 11 sci-fi films accounted for 11.9% and 12 animated films took 9.4%.

The least appealing category to the public was drama. With 128 releases, drama was the most represented category of all, but accounted for just 8.7% of the box-office.

Horror performed surprisingly badly, with 13 films accounting for just 7% of the box-office. Romance had only a 0.6% box-office share from 16 titles, although romantic comedies were counted as comedies.

"Without the support of the national lottery and the tax incentives which are essential to building a truly sustainable UK film industry, the vast majority of the UK films featured in this report would not have been made," said Woodward. "The challenge now is to ensure that more quality UK-made films are seen on both large and small screens in the UK and abroad."