European box office experiences a ‘moderate drop’
The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) announced an update on 2013 box office and admissions at their member cinemas across 29 European territories. With a copy of the report available at www.unic-cinemas.org, we are summarizing some key indicators here.
After strong results during the previous year, and putting aside “significant regional differences,” 2013 showed an overall “moderate drop” in box office and admissions of 3% and 2.2%, respectively. The key territories of France, the U.K. and Germany all saw their moviegoing decrease above that average, by 5.3% (box office) and 4% (admissions) each. Spain “continued to suffer from economic difficulties and ill-advised government tax initiatives,” resulting in ticket sales and numbers decreasing 16.3% and 15.4% overall. Whereas the number of total cinema screens in Europe remained stable by offering some 62 screens per one million inhabitants, Spain actually recorded cinema closures and contended with the greatest reduction in screen density amongst UNIC members.
With admissions growing 12% and ticket sales 6.4%, Russia “saw another period of sustained growth.” UNIC cited other success stories in Turkey and Israel, with increases “that helped ensure that cinema exhibition across UNIC territories overall remained robust.” Again, it was those growth markets where the average annual number of cinema visits increased: Israel (1.7), Italy (1.6), Russia (1.3) and Turkey (0.7). At 3.2, the rate was highest in Ireland and the average across all countries decreased marginally by 0.1 to 1.6 visits per capita.
Some data for a number of countries is based on estimates, with final facts about the performance of each territory to be released in spring 2014.
Berlin Market Debates Business
During the Berlin International Film Festival, the European Film Market (EFM) once again offered a variety of industry debates on timely topics. Event organizers called attention to documentaries and “how they are changing artistically”; successful producers, “the industry’s unsung heroes,” and their insights; and “new sales opportunities for European cinema in Asia,” where the market for films is growing. An additional fourth panel was focused on the “radical changes caused by technological advances” and their impact on media content and platforms, as well as the resulting new business models.
While we have all learned that “content everywhere, anytime and on every device is finally a reality,” the panelists’ outlook on how “traditional roles and definitions of media categories are eroding” seemed particularly insightful: “TV series find their way into film festivals, online content is sold on global TV markets, live events are screened in cinemas worldwide, premieres become online events.” Panelists included producers Nico Hofmann (of Germany’s holiday hit The Physician), Mark Johnson (“Breaking Bad”), Melissa Keeping (Event Cinema Association), Christina Rogers (Magnolia Pictures) and Stefan Schulz (Watchever, Germany’s flat-rate entertainment service).
More2Screen with Gabriel and Romeo
Speaking about live events at cinemas, our friends at More2Screen have two exciting programs on their release schedule. First up from Berlin, Sony Digital Cinema organized a 4K Ultra High Definition (and 5.1. Surround Sound) premiere screening of Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front concert film at CinemaxX 10 Potsdamer Platz. As part of their three-year partnership that already featured Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Doors and Morrissey, the producers at Eagle Rock Entertainment once again appointed More2Screen to distribute the event to cinemas worldwide.
Christine Costello, managing director of More2Screen, confirms the release of the concert film on March 13 in the U.K. and across Europe, while discussing an April release for North America. “Peter Gabriel is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10, so we think that is a better fit.”
More2Screen will also showcase Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad as Romeo and Juliet, filmed during their recent Broadway run. “Screening theatre productions at the cinema has become hugely popular and we’re thrilled to bring this modern take on one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays to our exhibition partners across the globe.”
Available worldwide (except U.S. and Canada), this live HD recording marked the first time Romeo and Juliet had been staged on the Great White Way for 36 years. “Broadway is an art that we believe everyone should experience,” said Broadway HD producer and co-founder Stewart Lane,” and with our new company we are committed to making that possible.”
Over the past seven years, More2Screen has acquired and distributed opera, ballet, music concerts, theatre and special event films to 4,000 cinemas in 50+ international territories—including 37 live broadcasts and over 100 different recorded productions, plus 3D live/recorded content.
Crowd Finds 50 Kisses
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the “world’s first crowd-sourced narrative feature film” had its premiere at The Genesis Cinema in London. Two years in the making, the idea behind 50 Kisses was born during the 2012 London Screenwriters Festival as a platform for screenwriters and filmmakers globally “to come together in creative collaboration to produce a feature film and earn a film credit.”
Some 1,870 entries were received with two pages each of a story set on Valentine’s Day and featuring a kiss. Fifty winning ideas were chosen by filmmakers who submitted no less than 127 shorts. The best films were edited together, with portions of each one retained in 50 Kisses and 25 of the short films submitted featured in their entirety.
Crowdsourcing both the scripts and the films was a challenge, but as Chris Jones, director of the London Screenwriters Festival, explained, “No other film has ever been made in this way, and from humble grassroots it has blossomed into a standout feature film. The wider film industry is now taking note of this extraordinary endeavor and the unique way in which it was made. 50 Kisses is a film about popular culture, about the people, for the people and by the people."