Record year for European cinemas

European Update

With some data remaining to be collated and confirmed, the International Union of Cinemas presents “the first wide-ranging assessment” of the performance of the European cinema sector last year. 2015 was “a record year in many countries,” the trade association reported. Total admissions for EU countries (where data was available) increased by 6.9% compared to 2014, while total admissions for all UNIC territories grew 5.5% to more than 1.2 billion visits to the movie theatre.

While local films performed remarkably well in some countries, this overall trend was mostly the result of strong international titles throughout the year, including, but not limited to, Fifty Shades of Grey, Furious 7, Minions, Spectre, Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Once final box-office figures for all territories are available, it will be possible to ascertain the impact of these positive overall trends in admissions on total revenues.

Here are the key trends.

* Increases in U.K., Germany and Scandinavia

* Positive performance in France and Turkey

* Strong developments in Southern Europe

* Continuing growth in Central and Eastern Europe

Looking south, Italy was showing “signs of recovery” with an impressive increase of 10.9% and 8.6% in admissions and box office. At 7.5% and 9.2%, respectively, Spain enjoyed equally positive results, with 8 Apelidos Catalenes leading the box-office top-five. In Portugal as well, a local title ranked high on the list, as admissions increased by an “astonishing” 20.2%. In the U.K. and Germany, admissions climbed over 9%, with Teutonic sequel Fack Ju Göhte 2 bringing local titles to a record market share. While Scandinavia profited equally from homemade product, France and Turkey had a bit of catch-up to do after local films had been doing well in 2014. More than 200 million cinema visits were counted in France, but admissions slightly decreased by 1.4%. Turkey increased its box office by 4.4% while admissions were down slightly by 1.3%. With attendance up across the Central and Eastern boards, “Poland has now become one of the leading European cinema markets,” UNIC noted about the 10.6% growth rate.

Admissions of 1.5 per capita for all UNIC territories, again based on available results, were equal to 2014. France (3.1) and Ireland (3.3) experienced the highest cinema-going rate. UNIC is the European trade grouping representing cinema exhibitors and their national trade associations across 36 European territories.

Big Plus for Kinowerbung

The news about cinema advertising is good everywhere. Looking at Germany, it is sehr gut,” in fact. According to trade association FDW Werbung im Kino, at €95.14 million (US$104.94 mil.), total revenue was up 18.05% over the prior year. Countrywide ads were up 22.1% (€75.24 mil.) and regional-local increased 4.9% (€19.9 mil.), not including charges for production. “New and even better hitting concepts for targeted audiences and attractive pricing models” were named as the main drivers at the same time as new advertisers selected the medium.

VR Tour Goes Global

From the beginning of March to mid-April, as “the largest community for virtual-reality creators,” Kaleidoscope is presenting a ten-city international tour showcasing over 30 “innovative and thought-provoking experiences,” deemed the best in virtual reality (VR) film, art and immersion. With this edition’s focus on alternative content, interactivity and immersion have been mentioned as both new options and opportunities for movie theatres, as well as yet another way to keep people in their personal environments.

Either way, Gear VR equipment supplied by Samsung, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive VR headsets and Nokia’s OZO VR camera will be available from Paris, France (La Gaîté lyrique), to Pangyo, South Korea (Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation) and Melbourne, Australia (Melbourne Meat Market). Powered by the Wevr Transport content network for VR creators and their audiences (four Wevr experiences premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival), other notable European stops include Cologne, Germany (Photokina trade fair) and Amsterdam, The Netherlands (The EYE Film Museum).

Kaleidoscope was founded less than a year ago by entrepreneur René Pinnell and former Industrial Light & Magic technical director Michael Breymann. The startup’s mission is “to empower independent VR artists” in a variety of ways and to raise “the visibility of VR as the new frontier of film and entertainment.”

D-Cinema Dominates Berlinale

Over the course of the past six years, the Berlinale “has grown to be one of the biggest technological trailblazers on the film festival scene.” Organizers give credit “in no small part” to the support of its digital-cinema partners: Colt Technology Services, Rohde & Schwarz DVS, ARRI, Dolby, Barco and Aspera, an IBM company. “They enable the festival to make use of the newest technologies for the distribution and projection of our films,” noted festival director Dieter Kosslick.

All of the participating cinemas and venues–95% of more than 2,500 screenings are from DCPs–are connected to the festival’s Film Office via fiber-optic network. An entirely new workflow for the inspection and administration of submitted films necessitated a central system with over one petabyte (1,000 TB) in storage. With that come transfer software (Faspex from Aspera) and high-speed Internet (Colt) running at 10 gigabits per second that made global DCP hard-drive shipping obsolete for over 100 films.

The Berlinale Palast is equipped for Dolby Atmos, the festival acknowledged. “A further milestone this year is the use of a 4K laser projector from Barco in the Friedrichstadt-Palast [enabling the delivery of] especially high-contrast and bright images to the venue’s 22-meter-wide screen” (72 feet) and 1,895 seats. Calling their collaboration “pleasant” and “win-win,” head of Berlinale sponsorship Dagmar Forelle admits to being “even more excited” this year. “As true film enthusiasts, we are really impressed with the exceptional brightness…the sharp contrast and the crisp colors. We truly appreciate Barco bringing this premium laser technology solution to the biggest venue of the Berlinale.” Added Stijn Henderickx, VP of cinema at Barco, “It’s the perfect projector for this grand film festival.”