New report analyzes trends in European alternative content presentations


The Event Cinema Association and IHS Screen Digest announced the release of a first-time body of research in the area of alternative content, also known as event cinema.

Recognizing a need for hard facts in this emerging market, the ECA and IHS Screen Digest collaborated on the study, which has some surprising findings that stand to shape the industry and ultimately encourage and attract investment. A cross-section of European territories from Ireland to Russia was examined, with the assistance of ECA members and others, and while the data confirmed some more obvious patterns, others are emerging that will prove intriguing over the next 12 to 24 months.

A wealth of pan-European statistics was collected and analyzed for the first time since the emergence of event cinema back in 2006, and among the trends established, IHS Screen Digest has learned that contrary to many assumptions, the number of recorded events is actually growing, and business models for both live and recorded are developing and co-existing happily. While exhibitors have the flexibility of recorded events to schedule around their mainstream content, and the opportunity to build their audience and market accordingly, live events have a thrill factor and temporal experience that appeals to audiences more, and box-office results reflect this.

Indeed, the highest-grossing event ever screened was a live show by French comedienne Florence Foresti, staged by Pathé Live in September 2012, registering 87,000 admissions in France, Belgium and Switzerland (at €10 a ticket, this produced €1.2 million in admissions in a single performance).

3D is also less of a driving factor given the hype it’s had, but event cinema is still young and this may change as production costs reduce over time. Overall the number of 3D events in the event cinema space seems to be slightly diminishing, though that may not be an indication of long-term decline, rather a symptom of the one-off nature of event cinema programming against high production costs.

TV events are very popular in the Netherlands, making up 23% of all event cinema programming, just behind the behemoth of opera (streets ahead of all other genres in every territory studied); in other words, almost one in four events was a TV special.

Senior principal analyst and Director of IHS Screen Digest David Hancock, who wrote the report, said, “It’s very exciting to see event cinema data presented for the first time like this. So far, our research has focused on U.S. and U.K. markets where we maintain a tracking database; until now we have not had access to research from other European markets. I would like to thank the ECA members and other organizations like Nevafilm and CinemaDigitaal for enabling us to put together this report… I hope the results gives people pause for thought and help the market to evolve in a more informed way.”

Melissa Keeping, chair of the ECA, said, “One of the key missions in setting up the ECA last year was providing the industry with clear and current data, and with the analysis provided by David Hancock and IHS Screen Digest, this is a real milestone for the ECA as much as the industry. The report is fascinating, and European exhibition and distribution will certainly benefit from the willing collaboration of the ECA members, without whose help this would not have been possible.”

“Event Cinema in European Cinemas” will be available for download via IHS Screen Digest ( and the ECA ( beginning April 16. For more information, contact Melissa Keeping at or David Hancock at david.hancock@ihs .com.