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Back 12% of all films released in the EU are at least 10 years old. New study explores the volume of catalogue films in the EU in cinemas, TV and VOD

The European Audiovisual Observatory presents its latest report on the “Exploitation of catalogue films in the EU”.
12% of all films released in the EU are at least 10 years old. New study explores the volume of catalogue films in the EU in cinemas, TV and VOD

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The European Audiovisual Observatory will present its latest report, Exploitation of catalogue films in the EU, at the Marché International du Film Classique during the Festival Lumière in Lyon. This presentation will take place tomorrow afternoon during a conference entitled “What distribution for catalogue films?”

This new report provides an overview of the commercial exploitation of so-called “catalogue titles” – that is, films that have already completed a first cycle of exploitation – across the three main distribution windows (theatrical release, VOD and television channels), including data on age, origin and circulation of these films. While there is no established definition for catalogue films, for the purposes of this study, they are defined as films that were produced at least 10 years prior to the exploitation year taken into consideration.

A second chance for older films?

Feature films normally generate most of their revenue during their first run of exploitation through the different distribution windows (theatrical release, home video / VOD, TV). After this period, only a small portion of films have a second run.. However, the digitisation of cinemas and film restoration have made it easier for older films to re-enter the theatrical exhibition circuit, while ensuring good image and sound quality. Also, the prevalence of VOD services opens up new opportunities for the exploitation of these so-called catalogue titles.

In recent years, a few US “catalogue” hits have achieved remarkable success at the box office; in 2012, EU admissions to catalogue films peaked at 13.5 million tickets sold, driven by the re-releases of Titanic and Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Figure: Admissions to catalogue films on release in the EU (2007-2016)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory / LUMIERE


1- In cinemas, catalogue films generate a negligible volume of admissions (and US catalogue films take the lion’s share)

  • Catalogue films represented on average 12% of all feature films on release in the EU over the period 2007-2016, a share that increased after 2014 to 16% in 2016. However, catalogue films only accounted for 0.4% of total admissions.

Figure: Catalogue films on release in the EU: Number of releases vs. admissions (AVG 2007-2016)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory / LUMIERE


  • Theatrical admissions are highly concentrated at the top, as 10 catalogue films, mostly US “catalogue blockbusters” – generated on average 56% of admissions to catalogue films.
  • EU films comprised on an average 57% of releases of catalogue films but only generated 30% of admissions. In turn, US films – on average 33% of catalogue releases – accounted for as much as 62% of admissions.
  • Catalogue films have a limited circulation across the EU: on average, they were released in 1.2 markets, compared to 2.3 markets for all films across the board. EU catalogue films circulated only marginally less well than their US counterparts.
  • On average, 58% of admissions to EU catalogue films were generated outside their national markets (compared to 32% for films in general).

2 – Based on 2016 data, the share of catalogue films on the overall film offer is higher for TV channels than on any other distribution window considered. However, cinema offers the highest share of EU content among catalogue films

In 2016, TV channels offered the highest share of catalogue films (47%), followed by TVOD (41%) and SVOD (34%).

  • Cinema was the window offering the largest share of EU films among catalogue films (47%), followed by TV (25%), TVOD (19%) and SVOD (16%).

Figure: Synthesis. Share of catalogue films and EU catalogue films across distribution windows in the EU, 2016

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory / LUMIERE, analysis of Eurodata TV data

  • Catalogue titles benefited from broader circulation on TVOD services than in other windows – they were available in an average of 5.3 countries.
  • US titles circulated better than EU films across all distribution channels. In turn, EU catalogue titles enjoyed better circulation on VOD than in cinemas and on TV channels: on average, EU catalogue films were released in 2.7 countries on TVOD platforms, compared to 2.4 on SVOD.

3 - Theatrical releases might help boost the circulation of catalogue films on VOD services

  • In 2016, 62% of catalogue films theatrically released in the EU were also made available on a VOD service, whether TVOD or SVOD. This share rises to 51% for EU films and 85% for US films.
  • On average, catalogue films released in cinemas and made available on VOD services, benefitted from wider VOD circulation than catalogue films in general.

Figure: Share of theatrically released catalogue films also available on at least one VOD platform in the EU, 2016

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory / LUMIERE

Strasbourg 18/10/2018
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