Jack Valenti's annual 'state of the union' speech at ShoWest earlier this month was notable for what it did not quite say, as much as what was explicitly uttered by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) president.

Valenti pointed to the high and rising production costs (negative cost) incurred by the seven studio members of the MPA. And he showed that the awesome costs of US marketing had been kept in check.

What he didn't do was to show that total production spend leaped a colossal 30% in 2002 - instead, he reported that combining negative and marketing costs, the average cost of making and launching a studio film in 2002 rose by $10.7m to $89.4m. 'That's an overall increase of 13.6%.'

Production costs rose 23% from $47.7m to $58.8m, while average US marketing costs edged down 1% from $31m to $30.6m. But, for the incessant talk of cutting back production, the studios also made significantly more films last year. The total rose from 196 movies in 2001 to 225 in 2002.

If the cost of foreign releasing is added in at a figure the same as the US, the total becomes even more explosive at approximately $27bn.

That dwarfs the worldwide theatrical gross total - even before other revenue deductions such as the exhibitors' cut are factored in.

This loss, which could be called the crude theatrical deficit, last year climbed by 55% from just over $5bn to just under $8bn.