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Back Towards a new normal? Cinema attendance in Europe keeps growing, up by 18% in 2023, although pre-pandemic highs remain far

European Audiovisual Observatory releases its preliminary 2023 European cinema data - Berlinale 2024
Towards a new normal? Cinema attendance in Europe keeps growing, up by 18% in 2023, although pre-pandemic highs remain far

According to initial findings compiled by the European Audiovisual Observatory, cinema attendance in wider Europe  rose to approximately 859 million admissions in 2023. This reflects a positive year-on-year rise of 18.1%, signifying an increase of 131.8 million tickets compared to 2022. These figures, while encouraging, still fall short of the pre-pandemic average of 1.11 billion yearly admissions observed between 2017 and 2019 (-22.9%).

Similarly, within the European Union and the United Kingdom (EU27+UK ), admissions soared to an estimated 784.7 million in 2023, marking an uptick of 128.9 million tickets from the previous year, representing a remarkable 19.7% year-on-year growth. In this case, admissions are down 20.1% compared to pre-pandemic averages.

 

In 2023, the growth in the European theatrical sector that characterized the past 3 years was challenged by the strikes within the North American film industry, which started having a detrimental impact on the overall results due to production and release delays, as well as missed marketing opportunities. The repercussions of these disruptions are expected to linger into 2024, posing further obstacles to the cinema industry's growth and suggesting that admissions levels might be approaching a new normal, characterized by a more tempered pace of expansion. 

 

In parallel to the previous year's trends, cinema admissions in 2023 showed growth across most territories for which data was available, highlighting significant disparities among individual countries. 

Particularly noteworthy was the year-on-year growth in attendance in Ukraine (+60.1%), Italy (+59.3%), Albania (+42.0%), and Greece (+34.8%). Of the 34 European countries with data available, only Czechia and Türkiye experienced declines in cinema attendance, with drops of -1.2% and -17.9% respectively. 

In absolute numbers, France maintained its position as the European leader in theatrical attendance (180.8 million tickets sold), followed by the United Kingdom (123.6 million), Germany (95.7 million), and Spain (76.2 million). 

Initial estimates suggest that Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only European countries to surpass pre-pandemic attendance levels in 2023, by 17.2% and 13.3% respectively. Conversely, Türkiye (-56.3%), Ukraine (-50.1%), and Sweden (-31.5%) stand out as the only countries where attendance rates still lag more than 30% behind 2017-2019 averages.

While it's too early to analyse admissions by origin, preliminary data indicates that American blockbuster titles, such as Barbie (US, GB), Oppenheimer (US), and The Super Mario Bros. Movie (US, JP), dominated the European box office. 

Similar to 2022, Türkiye and France accounted for the highest shares of admissions attributed to national productions, at 46.3% and 39.8% respectively. They are followed by the United Kingdom (37.0% ), Albania (31.2%), Norway (26.9%), and Italy (25.9%). Conversely, the lowest shares of admissions for national films were observed in Ireland (2.8%), Portugal (2.1%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2.0%), and Montenegro (0.5%)
 

 

 


Notes:   

  • Formerly, EU27+UK served as the proxy for Europe in earlier reports and press releases. With the acquisition of additional data, the Observatory has shifted its focus to encompass wider Europe in its publications, while maintaining reporting on EU27+UK for the sake of consistency and continuity.

Our next cinema figures will be released just before the Cannes’ Marché du Film.

To be added to our press listings, send an email to: alison.hindhaugh@coe.int

Strasbourg 15 February 2024
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