widely viewed European films in 1998
How often does a Dutch person
go to the cinema? How many multiplexes are there in Europe? Which European
films have been most widely viewed in Spain? How many tickets do multiplexes
sell in Hungary? What is the maximum ticket price in Great Britain?
These and other questions
are all answered by the European Cinema Yearbook, presented by MEDIA Salles
in Berlin on 14 February, together with the impressive "Source Document"
which brings together the national profiles of 31 countries in almost 500
From Iceland to Cyprus,
from Portugal to Estonia, the MEDIA Salles Yearbook, now in its eighth
edition and including Croatia, Latvia and Yugoslavia, makes it possible
to get a good idea about the status of the exhibition industry and the
features of cinema-going from 1989 to 1998.
In Western Europe this decade
has seen an increase in the number of screens and spectators, with, at
the same time, the proliferation of the "multiplex" model.
In ’98, there were 843 million
spectators in the 18 Western countries (+ 7,1% compared to 1997). In some
ways this can be considered an exceptional result, in view of the enormous
and widespread success of Titanic, but it can also be seen as a confirmation
of the positive trend that has distinguished the ‘90s. During this decade
Western Europe has, in fact, gained around 200 million spectators.
What did Western European
spectators go to see in 1998? Certainly a lot of American films: their
market share settled somewhere between the approximate 65% in France and
Italy and the 90% in the Netherlands. Some titles, such as Armageddon,
Saving Private Ryan and There’s Something about Mary, were
among the top ten most widely viewed films in almost all the markets analyzed.
Home-produced films gained
a share above 10% in Denmark, Spain, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom,
while only Italy and France reached a figure above 20%. The results for
German films in their home country was decidedly unsatisfactory: in 1998
they attained only 8,1%, while in 1997 and 1996 they had reached over 15%.
Some domestic films have,
however, obtained very good results, coming second, after Titanic, in the
classification of the most widely viewed films. This is what happened in
the case of Norway with Solan, Ludvig og Gurin med Reverompa (Gurin
with the Fox Tail) (5,9% of total admissions); Finland with Kuningasjätkä
(A Summer by the River) (4,3%); Austria with Hinterholz 8 (3,9%);
Denmark with Festen (The Celebration) (3,5%). France not only sees
Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner Game) (5,1%) in second place
but another two home-produced films in third and fourth place: Les Visiteurs
2 (The Corridors of Time: The Visitors 2) (4,6%) and Taxi (3,7%).
Italy is in a similar situation to France, with Tre Uomini e una Gamba
(Three Man and a Leg) (2,4%) and La Vita è Bella (Life is
Beautiful) (2,2%) placed immediately after Titanic. In Sweden
Fucking Åmål (Show Me Love) (with 3,6% of admissions)
comes third, just after Armageddon (3,7%). Torrente (Torrente,
the Stupid Arm of the Law) in Spain (2,5%) is also in third place.
Mention should also be made of the Netherlands where, in 1998, a home-produced
film, Abeltje, succeded in gaining eighth place amongst the most
successful films. Among the European films that have seen good results
also outside their home countries is Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner
Game), which appears in the top ten European films in Belgium, Switzerland
and Luxembourg. Among the Italian films in the top ten European films most
widely seen in at least one European country are Hamam (Hamam: The Turkish
Bath) (in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands) and, of course, La
Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful), which had over 3 million admissions
in France (winning first place in the classification of the top ten European
films), 328 000 in Belgium (third place), 263 000 in Switzerland (second
place), 46 000 in the Netherlands (sixth place), 19 000 in Luxembourg (second
Published in Film Journal
International, April 2000