7 Billion Benchmark: EU box office holds steady

Cinemas Features

Based on provisional data, cumulative gross box office (GBO) in the EU Member States topped the EUR 7 billion benchmark once again, reaching an estimated EUR 7.02 billion in 2017. While dropping 0.3% from the previous year, this still represents—not adjusted for inflation—the third-highest level ever recorded.

With the pan-European average ticket price stable at an estimated EUR 7.1, the decrease in GBO was mainly driven by a slight decline in cinema attendance, as admissions dropped 0.8% to a total of 984 million (-7.6 million tickets sold), still marking the third-highest level in the EU since 2004. Measured in local currencies, GBO grew in an uneven manner across the EU, as it increased in 19 and decreased in six of the 25 EU markets for which provisional data were available.

Geographically speaking, GBO growth was strong in Central and Eastern Europe, recording a solid upturn in the Slovak Republic (+EUR 5.5 million, +18.9%), Lithuania (+EUR 2.7 million, +15.2%), Poland (+PLN 104.9 million, +10.8%) and Romania (+RON 25.0 million, +10.3%). Out of the five major EU markets, a moderate rise in the GBO was registered in Germany (+EUR 33.1 million, +3.2%) and the U.K. (+GBP 50.7 million, +4.1%), while revenues remained relatively stable in France and Spain. In turn, Italy showed a significant dip in GBO (-EUR 82.6 million, -11.9%), driven by a sizeable downturn in admissions, primarily to national films. GBO revenues also dropped slightly in Denmark (-DKK 39.9 million, -3.6%) and Austria (-EUR 2.6 million, -1.9%).

Outside the EU, Russian GBO soared by 9.5% to RUB 53 283.8 million, boosted by an unprecedented increase in cinema attendance (+10.0% to 212.2 million tickets sold), making Russia the biggest European market in terms of admissions last year. In Turkey, GBO takings increased 25.9%, rising to a record-breaking TRY 871.0 million, driven by an exceptional growth in ticket sales (+22.1%).

Family animated film Despicable Me 3 topped the European Union chart in 2017

As in previous years, U.S. studio titles dominated the EU box-office chart, representing 19 out of the top 20 films in 2017. The list was topped by the franchise animation film Despicable Me 3 (32.3 million admissions), followed by Disney’s live-action reboot of Beauty and the Beast (29.8 million) and Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Last Jedi (28.8 million). Interestingly, Despicable Me 3 was the only title to cross the benchmark of 30 million admissions, while no film had touched this threshold in 2016.

Family animation features continued to perform well, accounting for six out of the top 20 titles, including The Boss Baby (18.6 million admissions), Sing (15.2 million), Cars 3 (11.3 million) and Coco (9.8 million).

Confirming another well-established trend, franchise titles dominated the EU charts in 2017, as 15 titles out of the top 20 (and eight titles out of the top 10) are reboots, sequels or spinoffs, such as The Fate of the Furious (21.7 million admissions), Fifty Shades Darker (20.3 million), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (19.7 million) and It (17.9 million).

Great Britain war drama Dunkirk (made with incoming U.S. investment) was the only non-U.S. film to rank in the top 20, with 17.2 million tickets sold. Excluding European films financed with incoming U.S. investment, no European title reached 10 million admissions in the EU, with the top-performing European film, U.K. family comedy Paddington 2, generating9.1 million admissions.

European market share rose to 27.5%

In 2017, cumulative admissions to U.S. films decreased, leading to an estimated U.S. market share of 66.2%, down from 67.5% of the previous year. Conversely, admissions to European films slightly increased in 2017, making the market share of European films rise from 26.3% to an estimated 27.5%, the second-highest level in the past five years. The market share of European films produced with incoming U.S. investment remained relatively stable at 3.7% (compared to 3.5% in 2016).

EU film production volume registers slight decline

EU production levels showed a moderate downturn as the estimated number of European feature films produced in 2017 dropped from 1,741 to 1,676  (-3.7% down on 2016), reversing a long-established growth trend. This figure breaks down into an estimated number of 1,072 fiction films (64%) and 604 feature documentaries (36%). The decrease in production activity was primarily linked to the decreasing number of 100% national films, accounting for 68% of the total fiction production volume in 2017.

Digital conversion rate in the EU reaches 93%

According to figures provided by MEDIA Salles, the digitization process in the EU is almost complete. By the end of 2017, a total of 24 EU member states had converted 90% or more of their screen base, with only two territories registering digital screen penetration rates below 80%: the Slovak Republic (77%) and the Czech Republic (51%). By the end of 2017, the total number of digital screens was 30,735, accounting for an estimated 93% of the EU’s total screen base.

More detailed information on European as well as international theatrical markets can be found in 
FOCUS 2017 World Film Market Trendsprepared by the European Audiovisual Observatory for the Cannes Film Market. Visit their website at www.obs.coe.int.