Admissions in the last quarter of 2000 slid 13% to 32.2 million, compared with 37.1m in the last three months of 1999, according to data from government agency National Statistics. If the data is seasonally adjusted the fall was 14%, from 37.7 million to 32.4 million.

The figures reveal a total of 137.1 million tickets sold in 2000, a 2.5% increase on 1999's 133.8 million. The previous year's increase had been a beefier 5.3%. A number of factors may explain the slowdown: a declining number of multiplex openings; fewer blockbuster films; and, the slowdown in the wider UK economy.

Last year also boasted a number of powerful alternative distractions. In mid-year a combination of the Euro 2000 football tournament and scorching weather dragged box office takings to record lows (Screendaily, June 20).

And in September the Olympic Games may have dented third-quarter cinema-going. The fourth quarter figures were up 1.9% on the adjusted 31.8 million recorded between July and September.