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European cinema box office sets new record

Europeans spent € 6.45 billion at the cinema in 2010, setting a new record for box office receipts, according to data from the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Based on provisional data available, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that 2010 gross box office takings in the European Union increased by 5% year-on-year to around EUR 6.45 billion, the highest level on record. In contrast to 2009 box office growth was exclusively driven by an increase in average ticket prices as admissions actually decreased by 1.6% to 967 million tickets sold.

These data seem to reflect the impact of 3D films in their second year on the market. While it can be assumed that the novelty factor of 3D had significantly contributed in driving growth in cinema attendance in 2009, 3D films failed to further increase ticket sales in 2010 but kept cinema attendance at the second highest level since 2004 and caused the average ticket price to increase by an estimated 6.8%. A surge in 3D screens helped an increasing number of stereoscopic blockbusters to better exploit their market potential and caused market shares for 3D films to increase dramatically in major European markets like France and Germany, where they took 16% and 17% of total admissions, or the UK and Russia, where they took 24% and 20% of total GBO.

On the level of individual markets 2010 was a year of mixed results with cinema going trends varying significantly across the individual European countries. Admissions decreased in 14 and increased in 13 of EU markets, while GBO increased in 18 and decreased in 8 of the EU markets for which provisional data were available. Theatrical markets which performed particularly well were Italy, with admissions up 11% and France, where GBO rose 5.6%.

3D blockbuster Avatar topped last year’s European charts, selling an estimated 43 million tickets in 2010, after having generated over 22 million admissions in 2009. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 took a strong second place with 31.2 million admissions followed by 3D blockbusters Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. The EU charts were once more dominated by US 3D blockbusters which accounted for 10 out of the top 20 films. Leaving aside the latest Harry Potter instalment and Robin Hood, both UK inward investment films financed by a US studio, no European film made it into the top 20. The most successful European films without incoming US investment were French comedy Les petits mouchoirs, attracting an audience of over 5.4 million people across the EU, followed by German 3D horror action film Resident Evil: Afterlife which sold 5.3 million tickets.

More detailed information on European as well as international theatrical markets can be found in FOCUS 2011- World Film Market Trends prepared by the European Audiovisual Observatory for the Cannes Film Market and available from mid-May onwards on this page: