The value of the US box office is predicted to top $10bn in 2006, according to a new report from global cinema analysts Dodona Research.

Since 1990, the US' gross box office has been growing at an average of 5% per year, with last year's value hitting $7.9bn, according to Dodona's Moviegoing USA report.

The prospect will be welcomed by the beleaguered US exhibition sector. It has been hit by a spate of bankruptcies over the last few years as a result of over-expansion. According to Dodona, the number of US cinema screens has grown at twice the rate of admissions since 1990.

But despite predictions of hefty screen closures, few have been put into darkness. Although seven of the largest companies have closed 2,400 screens since 1999, the net reduction in the total number of US screens was just 421 over the same period.

Dodona's report also highlights the potential future shifts in US cinema going demographics. While 16-20 year-olds visit the cinema more often on a per capita basis, the 30-39 age group actually accounted for more cinema admissions in 2000, with 220 million admissions, compared with 208 million.

Japan is also seeing a boom in cinema screens. According to a new survey from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the number of cinema screens in Japan totaled 2,311 in 2001, up 41.3% from 1997. Between 1991 and 1997, only 67 screens were added.

Sales at Japanese cinemas hit 200.7 billion yen in 2001, up 32.9% from 1997 and topping the Y200bn ($1.7bn) mark for the first time since 1975, when the ministry started the survey.