The most 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 pag
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.
The Films
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 place).
Elisabetta Brunella
Published in Film Journal International, April 2000