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Box Office - Europe

Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming

Europe’s box office grew by 42% in 2021

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The International Union of Cinemas has published a report on the continent’s cinemagoing figures

Europe’s box office grew by 42% in 2021
Toma by Dragan Bjelogrlić outperformed Spider-Man: No Way Home at the box office in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Yesterday, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the Brussels-based body representing European cinema trade associations and operators, released preliminary 2021 box office and admissions estimates for the territories covered by the organisation. At the EU level – including the UK – over 400 million tickets were sold in cinemas, worth an estimated €2.9 billion at the box office, all this when most screens were shut for the first half of the year and operating for the following six months under limited capacity and additional restrictions. In the body’s official press release, UNIC reported that “these positive results amply illustrate the industry’s resilience and the eagerness of European audiences to return to the Big Screen.”

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Compared to 2019 figures – defined as “a particularly successful year for the sector,” last year’s admissions still lag 56% behind. Some territories, however, are proving more resilient than others: in particular France (-22% for H2 2021 compared to H2 2019), the UK (-26%), Russia (-29.5%) and Poland (-24.3%). Once again, box office was driven by international hits such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, No Time to Die [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, F9: The Fast Saga, Venom: Let There Be Carnage
and Dune [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. Notably, Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed over $1.77 billion and recorded “the sixth biggest result of all time.”

As witnessed in 2020, local titles have widely contributed to the sector’s recovery. Domestic films’ market shares were higher than normal years across the region, particularly in France (40.8%), the Czech Republic (38.3%) and Denmark (37%). Surprisingly, Dragan Bjelogrlić’s biopic on singer Toma Zdravkovic Toma [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
even managed to outperform Spider-Man: No Way Home, dominating at the box office in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Commenting on these figures and the future of the European box office, UNIC said: “It is only with the support of local and international distributors that cinema operators will be able to confidently recover from this incomparable period of challenge. A strong and diverse film slate will be key to attracting audiences to the Big Screen. The broad range of support mechanisms that have been made available to the sector in Europe have also been crucial, protecting livelihoods and covering some of the significant losses incurred by industry. But now is not the time for policy makers to ease those efforts aimed at ensuring the survival of local cinemas, whatever their size and location.”

Finally, UNIC described 2022 as “a pivotal year for the industry” and added that leading industry analysts Gower Street Analytics have forecasted a tentative estimate of $7.8 billion (+75% on 2021) and $33.2 billion (+55%) for EMEA and global box office, respectively.

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