Industry Report: Distribution and exhibition
European films strong as cinema attendance falls back
by European Audiovisual Observatory
08/05/2008 - European film production shows moderate growth
Based on the provisional data available, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that a total of 921 feature films were produced in the 27 member states of the European Union in 2007. This data includes for the first time production figures from the two new EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania, and historic figures have been adjusted to reflect this change. Based on these adjusted figures, European production levels for entirely national and majority co-productions have increased by 1.1% year-on-year and by an annual average of 5.1% since 2003 (754 feature films).
Overall growth was primarily due to a rise in the number of entirely national productions, increasing from 543 in 2003 to 711 in 2007 and 10 films up on 2006. International co-productions remained stable year-on-year, with a total of 210 films majority co-produced by a European Union member country in 2007.
Increased production activity in France, Spain and Italy contributed significantly to overall growth. With a total of 133 entirely national films (+6) and 52 majority co-productions (+15), France registered the second highest production level of the past five years, up 21 films from the previous year. Spanish production levels hit a record high, increasing 9% to 115 entirely national films (+6) and 30 majority co-productions (+6). Continuing its upward trend Italy counted a total of 109 ‘national’ films split into 93 national (+3) and 16 majority co-productions (+4). In contrast, production figures declined strongly in Hungary and Sweden, falling by -18 and -16 respectively. However in both cases this represents a return to more normal levels against a background of exceptional production activity in 2006.
European admissions fall back slightly in 2007
The European Audiovisual Observatory now estimates 2007 cinema attendance in the European Union at 919 million tickets sold. This figure takes into account revised estimates from Spain and Italy and represents a 1.3% decrease from the 932 million admissions registered in 2006.
Results differed significantly across the various territories. Among the five major markets the United Kingdom and Italy stood out. According to estimates from Centro Studi ed Analisi di Cinecittà Holding, Italian cinema experienced a phenomenal year, growing 13% to a record 120 million admissions. In the United Kingdom cinema attendance rose by 3.7% to 162 million tickets sold. Improving on early estimates the Spanish market registered a decline of -3.9%, while admissions fell by -5.9% and -8.2% in France and Germany respectively.
While cinema markets in Western Europe – with the exceptions noted above – were generally facing regressive attendance figures, audience interest was growing in more recent EU member states. This trend was demonstrated by the Czech Republic, where cinema attendance increased by 11.4%, largely thanks to strong local films, and Lithuania (+34%).
Outside of the European Union results were also mixed. While the Russian market increased by 16% with admissions climbing to 107 million, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey saw attendance fall steeply.
Strong demand for European film
Based on available data, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that European films achieved a provisional market share of 28.8% of total admissions in the European Union. This represents a small increase from an already strong 2006 market share of 28.6%, and stays well above the 25% achieved on average during 2003 and 2005.
In 2006 the phenomenal success of national films in France along with strong German films propelled the market share for European films to well above 28%. In 2007 United Kingdom and Italian films were largely responsible for maintaining European market share at this high level, even expanding it slightly. This helped to compensate for drops in national market share in France and Germany. Nonetheless, French productions remained the largest overall contributors to the market share of European films in the European Union, accounting for 8.5% of total admissions. Within France national market share returned to a more ‘normal’ level of 36.6% in 2007, decreasing from a record high of 44.6% in 2006. In Germany local films’ market share declined along with the overall cinema market, falling from 26% to 19%, and contributing 3.9% of total European admissions, down from 4.9% in the previous year.
Within the United Kingdom national market share increased along with overall admissions, climbing from 19% to 28%. Local productions like Hot Fuzz [trailer], The Last King of Scotland [trailer] or Mr. Bean's Holiday [trailer] registered strong box office results not only at home but across Europe, with Mr. Bean’s Holiday becoming the most successful European film in 2007. United Kingdom films, excluding those considered as inward investments, accounted for 6.7% of admissions in the European Union, up from 2.9% last year. Led by local comedy hits national market share hit a record high of 33% in Italy, up from 26% in the previous year. Along with the strong increase in cinema attendance, Italian films’ share in European admissions increased from 3.1% to 4.1%.
Films produced in Europe and benefiting from incoming US investment, such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [trailer], increased their market share from 5.2% to 6.3%. Market share for US films, including US films considered as inward investment films in Europe, decreased from 63.5% to 62.7%.
Harry Potter tops the European charts in 2007
Just like its predecessor in 2005, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix topped the European charts, selling about 38.4 million tickets in 2007. It was one out of eight sequels finding a place in the top 20, with four of these placed in the top 10. Apart from Harry Potter these included the third and final instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean in second place, followed by Shrek the Third and Spider-Man 3.
Besides United Kingdom inward investment sequel Harry Potter, two additional European films made it into the top 20 charts. Mr. Bean’s Holiday attracted an audience of over 15.2 million people making it the 7th most successful film in Europe in the past year. Award-winning La Vie En Rose [trailer] took 19th place with some 7.2 million admissions.
The top ranking European films came primarily from the United Kingdom (6 films), Italy (5 films) and France (4 films). Germany and Spain contributed with respectively 3 and 1 film to the European top 20, while Polish production Katyn [trailer, film focus] at number 13 became the only film from outside the major territories to feature in the charts. Led by Manuale d'amore 2 [trailer] and Natale in Crociera [trailer] (over 3 million admissions each) strong national performances brought 5 Italian films into the 2007 ranking, compared to 2 in the previous year.
Other successful European films included comedies Taxi 4 [trailer] (5.3 million admissions) and Hot Fuzz (4.8 million), followed by Spanish horror film El Orfanato [trailer] (4.3 million) and German award winning drama The Lives of Others [trailer, film focus], which registered over 4 million admissions in its second year of release.