|All you need is a film, and the domestic share soars
by Elisabetta Brunella
It was already clear from the figures available at the start of the year: 2021 saw an overall shift in the market shares of domestic films in European countries. In the first year of the pandemic domestic productions supported programming where and when cinemas were able to operate.
Thus, in most countries on the Old Continent, the percentage of admissions for domestic films was the highest - or second highest - in the last decade. In 2021 the big titles from the studios returned to the top ten lists.
Yet in several countries local films achieved remarkable results or even improved on their 2020 performance.
In the Netherlands, Dutch productions claimed 23.1% of admissions, adding almost two points to their 2020 figures. Although to a lesser extent, Austria, too, experienced growth: its “own” films achieved 6.2% compared to 5.1% the previous year.
In Central-Eastern Europe, 2021 was an improvement on 2020 for many countries: by a hair’s breadth in Bosnia Herzegovina, significantly in Malta, Hungary and Bulgaria, with rises between 3 and 6 percent points, and amazingly in Serbia, where an increase from 7.6% to 38.2% was noted. The latter was largely thanks to “Toma”, the biopic dedicated to the legendary songwriter-singer Toma Zdravković, who claimed an absolute first in terms of audience, with a market share of 20.1%. In other words, in Serbia one out of five spectators chose “Toma”, a film that was responsible for over half the tickets sold for domestic productions.
Situations similar to Serbia’s were also to be seen elsewhere, though to a different extent: the coproduction “Južni Vetar 2 Ubrzanje” came in second place with 4.6% of ticket sales in Croatia, where the market share for national films reached 7.1%. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia the coproduction “Známi, neznámi”, a remake of “Perfect Strangers”, came second with 5.2% of tickets, whilst the market share for Slovak films came to 9.9%.
The concentration phenomenon is not alien to the north of Europe, either. In Iceland, “Leynilögga”, in second place with 5.4% of spectators hard on the heels of the mega-production“No time to die” (7.6%), gained half of the tickets sold for domestic films. Along the same lines, though in a less marked fashion, is Denmark, where the animated film “Ternet Ninja 2”, in second place in the Top Ten, was seen by 13.7% of spectators, an extremely high percentage in view of the fact that “No time to die” accounted for 15.6%.
Similarly, Norway placed one of “its” films second: the family fantasy film “Tre Nøtter til Askepott”, which claimed a market share of 10.1%, also chasing “No time to die”, first in the list with 11.8%.
In these two northern countries, the most successful domestic film attracted a third of those spectators who chose a local production. Bulgaria followed a similar trend: “The naked truth about Zhiguli Band”, second in the Top Ten, sold 6% of tickets, whilst the market share for domestic films reached 16.1%.
Partly different are the cases of the Czech Republic and Russia: here, too, a domestic film comes in first place in the Top Ten, though claiming a lower market share than those recorded in the countries previously mentioned, showing that fans of domestic productions were distributed over a relatively larger number of titles. The Czech comedy “Prvok, Šampón, Tečka a Karel”, the most widely viewed title in the country, reached 8.4% of all spectators, whilst the total of national productions claimed 41.9%. In Russia “The last warrior: root of evil” came top of the list at 4.9%, to be compared with a market share for domestic films of 27.0%.
The Czech or Russian examples seem, however, to represent a sort of exception to the fairly widespread trend in European countries, particularly in those with a quantitatively weaker production capacity: frequently a single film - or at the most a couple - obtains considerable success which causes the domestic market share to soar. This is a phenomenon which on the one hand confirms the interest of a large section of audiences in domestic productions with popular appeal, and on the other shows the scarce ability to generate a regular flow of productions that attract diversified sectors of the general public.
This article was published in issue no. 190 of Cinema & Video Int'l, the MEDIA Salles media partner.