15 February 2008
CINEMA-GOING IN EUROPE:
DROP IN EUROPEAN AUDIENCES, BUT WITH EXCEPTIONS.
THE SLOW GROWTH OF MULTIPLEXES IN EUROPE CONTINUES.
ALMOST 6,000 DIGITAL SCREENS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
A tendency to decline, but not everywhere:
this sums up the 2007 trend as regards cinema audiences. The exact opposite
of 2006, where the plus sign was the general rule, although, there again,
with some exceptions.
This is the picture that emerges from the
data collected by MEDIA Salles who, as last year, have anticipated the
announcement of the 2007 figures on cinema-going in Europe to the Berlin
Festival, during the presentation of the “European Cinema Yearbook
– 2007 final edition”, which took place today, 15 February.
The Yearbook – containing the “Berlin
Special” with advance news of 2007 – can be consulted online
at the MEDIA Salles website : http://www.mediasalles.it/yearbook.htm
A dip in European Union spectators
From the figures available to date, which regard 25 countries, 22 belonging
to the EU, it can be seen that admissions have declined on average by
2.1% in the European Union, dropping from 911.5 to 892.2 million. In Western
Europe the drop is equal to 2.6% (from 869.6 to 846.9 million), whilst
in the central and eastern part of the continent and on the Mediterranean
Rim it amounts to 3.5% (from 105.1 to 101.4 million).
The situation in Western
Europe: contrasting results from the five leading markets
Analysing the figures country by country and starting with the five leading
markets, the results that emerge differ widely, as in 2006. France, Spain
and Germany close 2007 with considerable decreases, whilst the United
Kingdom grows and Italy takes wing. The leading European market continues
to be France which, whilst losing over 10 million spectators (from 188.7
to 178.1 million), obtains a better result than in 2005. Germany leaves
behind 11 million tickets, dropping to 125.4 million and returning to
its 1995 position. Eleven million fewer spectators for Spain, too, which
experiences its third consecutive drop and closes with a little over 112
million spectators: for a similar result we have to look back to 1998.
The United Kingdom, on the other hand, sees a happy ending to 2007 (+3.8%),
recovering most of the spectators lost in 2006 and, with 162.4 million
spectators (of which over 38 were counted in July and August alone), confirms
itself as the second largest market in Europe. Italy grows to the extent
of almost 12%, according to Cinetel estimates, which cover around 90%
of the market, recording over 114 million spectators. With this flattering
result, the best since 1986, due mostly to the success of films “made
in Italy”, accounting for as much as 34% of the market, Italy overtakes
Spain and is no longer in last place on the leading five European markets.
Remaining in Western Europe a positive trend can also be seen in a smaller
country like Ireland, which grows by 2.9%, crossing the 18-million spectator
threshold for the first time.
Portugal (-0.3%), Denmark (-0.8%), Sweden
(-0.9%) and Finland (-1.3%) are characterised by basically stable results
or with slight dips, whilst the other countries experience sometimes substantial
decreases, ranging from Belgium’s -6.2% to Switzerland’s –12.5%
and including Austria’s –9.5% and Norway’s –10.4%.
The Netherlands deserve special attention since the comparison between
the 2006 and 2007 figures has to take into account the fact that in 2006
53 weeks were counted. Comparisons based on 52 weeks reduce the 5.4% difference
by around 2 points.
The situation in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim:
Turkey influences the drop
In Central-Eastern Europe and on the Mediterranean Rim, one of the two
leading markets, Poland, remains basically stable (32.6 million spectators
compared to the 32.4 of 2006), whilst a positive result characterises
Estonia (+2.5%), Latvia (+3.9%), Bulgaria (+4.6%) and the Czech Republic,
where the increase, estimated at over 4%, is also due to the positive
result by domestic films. The increase in spectators seen in most countries,
however, fails to compensate for the drop recorded in Romania (approx.
-14%), in Slovakia (-19%) and on the second largest market - Turkey -
which, according to initial estimates, decreases from almost 35 million
tickets to 31 (-11%).
An initial observation emerging
from this situation, which would not cause great concern if the average
dip of a couple of percentage points alone were considered, is the repetition
of negative trends on markets that had raised high hopes for constant
and lasting growth during the ‘Nineties.
The slow growth of multiplexes
In terms of infrastructures, the number of screens in Western Europe remains
stable, whilst signs of growth are recorded in Central-Eastern Europe
and the Mediterranean Rim.
The typology of movie theatres continues
to change, with an increase in screens located in complexes housing at
least 8 screens. At 31 October 2007 there were 11,883 screens in multiplexes
all over Europe, compared to the 11,393 twelve months before. This represents
a 4.3% increase, a little lower than that recorded between 2005 and 2006,
but decidedly lower than that recorded between 2004 and 2005 (+7.5%).
The geographical distribution of complexes opened during 2007 shows that
most vitality is to be seen in areas where the multiplex phenomenon is
most recent: these are mainly Italy, Turkey and Poland (4 new complexes
each) but also smaller markets such as Croatia and Greece. Amongst the
countries in the avantgarde of the phenomenon, France and Ireland are
the most dynamic (respectively 6 and 3 new sites), followed by Spain (2
complexes). A new complex has been opened in Belgium and another on the
large UK market. Closures, however, cannot be overlooked – two of
which occurred in Italy and four in Spain, confirming the fact that competition
is wide-ranging and regards the whole market.
Digital screens worldwide: double
in 2007, touching on the 6,000 mark
During 2007 the number of digital screens worldwide practically doubled,
rising from 2,866 to 5,829. The lion’s share went to North America – in
particular the United States – where, at the end of 2006, 1,957 were installed,
with the number rising to 4,576 in the next twelve months. This is 79%
of the world’s total projectors fitted with DLP Cinema or 4K technology
and over 10% of US screens. In the same period Europe advanced from 531
to 829 installations, with a 55% increase. The number of digital projectors
in Asia remained basically stable, rising by only 7.8% to 374 units during
MEDIA Salles, a project
operating within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme,
with the support of the Italian Government, fosters theatrical
distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high profile campaigns
involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives to raise the visibility
of European productions with industry players and potential audiences,
creating specialized information channels on a global scale. Thus the
current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail in a program with a triple
focus – training, promotion and information – and maximum
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