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Mamma Mia! lifting spirits of film goers

PUBLISHED: 11:37 11 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:29 05 July 2010

Thank you for the music . . . and thank you for lifting us out of the gloom.

While the global economy plunges into new depths there appears to be one way people in Norfolk and Suffolk have been lifting their spirits - a trip to the cinema to see Mamma Mia!

The film, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, is already being hailed an "absolute phenomenon" having taken more than £250 million in box offices worldwide and £64 million in the UK since it was launched in July.

Thank you for the music . . . and thank you for lifting us out of the gloom.

While the global economy plunges into new depths there appears to be one way people in Norfolk and Suffolk have been lifting their spirits - a trip to the cinema to see Mamma Mia!

The film, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, is already being hailed an “absolute phenomenon” having taken more than £250 million in box offices worldwide and £64 million in the UK since it was launched in July.

And film fans from the county have shown they love a bit of escapism as much as the next person by not just watching the film once, but coming back again and again.

Staff at the region's Hollywood cinemas, including Lowestoft have noticed the same people watching the film two, three or four times.

General manager Ivan Daniels said the last film to capture the public's imagination like Mamma Mia! was Titanic a decade ago.

“Films like this do not come along very often,” he said. “One of the reasons for its popularity was certainly the credit crunch as a very large number of people remarked when leaving the cinema how much better they felt and it had really cheered them up after all the daily bad news about the state of the economy.”

Trevor Wicks, proprietor of Hollywood Cinemas added: “People will only go to the cinema if there is something for them to see. Most films are geared for teenagers or under 25s but this appealed to all ages, particularly females aged 30 plus.”

A spokesman for Vue cinemas in Norwich said Mamma Mia! was easily the highest grossing box office movie this year, with nearly twice as many people buying tickets for that than any other film. “40,366 people have seen Mamma Mia at Vue Norwich,” he said. “The Dark Knight is the second most popular film with 21,251 admissions.”

Justin Holmes, manager at Norwich's Odeon cinema, said he had not got final viewing figures but he knew they would reflect those of Norfolk's other venues.

“It has been a tremendous success,” he said. “And we have just been told that the film has now surpassed everything in the UK except Titanic and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. But it only needs another £2 million to beat Harry Potter so it looks very possible.”

Industry figures suggest the film has helped to make this summer one of the best for British cinema admissions in nearly 40 years. With other films such as Wall-E and Sex and the City more than 53 million people were tempted to visit the cinema in the three months from July to September.

Phil Clapp, chief executive at the Cinema Exhibitors Association, said the timing of Mamma Mia! was perfect. “In times of economic gloom people seek affordable and escapist entertainment,” he said. “We knew that admissions generally hold up well when the economy falters but, combined with a series of high quality movies, that has produced a truly exceptional period for UK cinema.”

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