On the occasion of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival the European Audiovisual Observatory releases its first estimates for European cinema attendance in 2011. The Observatory estimates that total admissions in the European Union dropped marginally by 0.4% to 960 million tickets sold, from 964 million in 2010.
As in 2010 admission trends varied across the individual European markets. Admissions decreased in 12 and increased in 10 out of the 22 EU markets for which provisional data were available. While many countries experienced only minor changes in their admission levels, it was primarily a strong French market which kept admissions in Europe from a more pronounced decline. Driven by the success of national films, and in particular Intouchables, which sold 15.7 million tickets on the domestic market alone, France registered the most significant admissions growth in terms of absolute numbers (+9.3 million, +4.2%) reaching 215.6 million admissions, the highest level since 1966. While cinema attendance increased slightly in Germany (+2.4%) and the UK (+1.4%), admissions dropped significantly in Italy (-9.6 million, -7.9%) and Spain (-7.2 million, -7.1%).
Outside of the EU, the Russian Federation’s impressive growth trend of the past years came to a halt with admissions stagnating at 165 million tickets sold, though its position as Europe’s third largest cinema market in terms of cinema attendance was confirmed. 2011 also proved another successful year for the Turkish cinema market where admissions grew by 3% to 42.3 million, the highest level of the decade.
2011 seems to have been a good year for national films in many European countries with national market shares increasing in 14 of the 22 EU member states for which data were available, eight of which achieved the highest market share in the past five years. Apart from France, where local films took 41.6% of total admissions, national films performed particularly well in Italy (37.5%), the UK (36.2%), Poland (30%), the Czech Republic (29%), Denmark (28%), Norway (24.5%) and the Netherlands (22.4%). Looking outside of the EU, Turkey remained the leading European country in terms of national market share with Turkish films taking 50.2% of total admissions in 2011.
Though it is too early to estimate total gross box office (GBO) for the EU, preliminary data show that GBO increased in nine out of the 17 EU markets for which data are available. This is a lower share than in the past years and hints at a comparatively reduced capacity of rising ticket prices to deliver higher GBO in 2011 in the face of flat or falling admissions, contrary to 2010 when premium prices for 3D delivered significant gains. The number of 3D releases increased notably in 2011, e.g. in France from 23 in 2010 to 43 releases, but the format seems to be maturing in some markets like the UK, where 3D market share dropped from 24% to 20% of total GBO. Data for four other European markets including France show 3D market share ranging from 20% to 25% of total admissions.
With 3D now well established on many European markets, the focus of digital roll-out has switched to 2D conversion of remaining screens. Digitisation continued apace in 2011 with 52% of European screens having been converted to digital by the end of the year according to a new report from the Observatory and MEDIA Salles.(1)
(1) The European Digital Cinema Report, http://www.obs.coe.int/oea_publ/market/european_digital_cinema.html