UNIC reports European cinema box-office growth in 2017

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The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the body representing European cinema trade associations and key operators, today released its provisional update on admissions and box office revenues across Europe for 2017. 

While some data remains to be collated and figures for certain territories are based only on initial estimates, the overview provided by UNIC represents the first wide-ranging assessment of the performance of the European cinema sector in 2017. More detailed final data on the performance of each territory will be released in spring 2018.

2017 was another year of growth for the European cinema industry. While total admissions for EU Member States (where data was available) decreased slightly by 0.6 percent compared to 2016, total admissions for all UNIC territories increased by 2.1 percent, totaling more than 1.3 billion visits to the cinema.

This increase was the result of both cinema operators’ continued investment in audience development initiatives and a slate of highly successful local films across Europe. As has been the case for previous years, however, box office was mainly driven by international titles, including, but not limited to, Beauty and the Beast, Despicable Me 3, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Fate of the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Once final box-office figures for all UNIC territories are available, total box-office revenues will be shared.

Successful results in France, U.K. and Russia

Despite a slight 1.8 percent decrease in admissions, France experienced its third-best performance of the past 50 years, bolstered by successful local films Raid Dingue and Valérian et la Cité des Mille Planètes. Similarly, the U.K. enjoyed a record-breaking year (box office +2.5 percent / admissions +1.4 percent) as did Russia, reaching over 200 million admissions for the first time to become the biggest UNIC territory in terms of admissions.

Germany experienced mixed results following a disappointing 2016, with a strong 3.2 percent increase in box office while admissions grew by 1.0 percent. This was despite the success of local production Fack Ju Göhte 3, which also made it to the box office top five in Austria, where total box office was -1.9 percent and admissions -3.6 percent. In comparison, Switzerland experienced a stable year (box office +0.8 percent / admissions +0.8 percent) with the help of local production Die Göttliche Ordnung.

Varying fortunes in Southern Europe and Scandinavia

While Portugal enjoyed another year of growth (box office +5.6 percent / admissions +4.4 percent), Spanish cinema operators finished 2017 just shy of the symbolic mark of 100 million admissions, with a local animation film Tadeo Jones 2: El Secreto del Rey Midas in the box office top five. Following a positive 2016, the Italian industry suffered from a lack of highly successful local and international titles (box office -11.6 percent / admissions -12.4 percent).

Turkey continues to grow at an exponential rate (box office +25.9 percent / admissions +22.1 percent) with national productions dominating the box office. Greece enjoyed a stable year (box office +0.9 percent / admissions +0.7 percent), adding to the positive results witnessed in the region and the renewed success of cinemas in the wider Balkans, including Bosnia-Herzegovina (box office +21.0 percent / admissions +17.8 percent) and Croatia (box office +5.8 percent / admissions +5.7 percent).

As has often been the case, local productions were among the most successful films of the year in all four Scandinavian countries. Nevertheless, varying results were experienced, as Denmark (box office -4.1 percent / admissions -7.4 percent) suffered another year of decline, while Norway’s negative results (box office -8.3 percent / admissions -10.3 percent) followed a record-breaking 2016. On the other hand, Finland experienced a fantastic year (box office +8.8 percent / admissions +3.0 percent) with a local production leading the box office once again.  

Assertive Central and Eastern European markets

The cinema industry in several Central and Eastern European territories continues to experience growth, as once again highlighted in 2017. Poland recorded another record year (box office +10.8 percent / admissions +8.7 percent), with three local films ranked in the box office top five for a market share of 23.2 percent. In Slovakia, admissions increased by more than one million, as the Czech Republic enjoyed its second-best performance of all time despite a slight decrease of 0.3 percent in box office and 2.5 percent in admissions. Romania (box office +14.0 percent / admissions +11.3 percent), Bulgaria (box office +4.7 percent / admissions +0.8 percent) and Hungary (box office +4.1 percent / admissions +1.9 percent) all experienced similarly positive results. The same trend could be observed in Ukraine, a territory represented by UNIC since June 2017, where provisional figures indicate a 32.2 percent growth in box office and admissions.

Admissions per capita, European film share, outlook for 2018 

Admissions per capita for all UNIC territories (where data was available) remained at 1.6 visits per year. France and Ireland (both at 3.3) experienced the highest rates of cinema-going.

Due to incomplete figures for several countries, it is too early to assess the total market share for European films in 2017. Turkey (56.7 percent), France (37.4 percent) and Finland (28.0 percent) experienced the highest national films’ market share across UNIC territories.