statistics on digital sites and screens situation (DLP cinema or
in Europe as at 30 June 2009
Acceleration in the increase of Europe’s
they now number 2,602, with a 70% rise in the first six months of
Europe’s digital screens
are continuing to increase in number, in fact they are accelerating:
the survey carried out every six months by MEDIA Salles shows that
as at 30 June 2009 the number of digital projectors fitted with
DLP Cinema or 4K technology had risen to 2,602, with a growth rate
of 70% compared to 1st January of the same year. A decidedly significant
increase when considering that in the first six month of 2009 alone,
the growth rate for the whole of 2008 (+71%) was almost equalled.
In absolute terms this year digital systems have been installed
at a rate of almost 180 a month, whilst in 2008 the corresponding
figure was a little over 50. The number of screens fitted with digital
projection technology has thus grown to around 7.5% of total screen
numbers in Europe – Russia included.
The spread of digital projectors throughout Europe does, however,
remain patchy, confirming once again that in all aspects of their
cinema industries – infrastructures and cinema-going styles
– each European market has its own characteristics.
Widespread growth but at different
Compared to the growth rate in the first half of 2009 – 70%
as has already been said – clear differences are to be seen.
Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Malta, Iceland and Latvia remain immobile,
whilst Luxemburg (+5%), Bulgaria (+12%), Belgium (+16%), Portugal
(+16%), Norway (+21%) and Ireland (+24%) stop well below the average,
as does one of the biggest markets on the continent in terms of
admissions, Germany, which sees an increase of 28% in its digital
Slightly below or above average come the Netherlands (+38%), another
of the major European markets, i.e. the United Kingdom (+43%), as
well as Switzerland (+46%), Denmark (+50%), Austria (+52%), Poland
(+55%), Turkey (+65%), Romania (+71%), Russia (+ 79%) and Greece
(+88%). A leap forward is to be seen instead on three of the largest
markets in terms of audiences: Italy (+129%), France (+136%), Spain
(+224%) and smaller countries such as Finland (+125%), Sweden (+150%),
Hungary (+186%) and the surprising Czech Republic (+1,150%) which
has grown from 2 to 25 digital screens in just six months.
The incidence of digital in
screens as a whole is also patchy
There are also quite distinct differences regarding the degree to
which digital technology has penetrated each country’s overall
number of cinemas. At the head of the list comes Luxemburg where
as many as 85% of cinemas have adopted the new technology. Compared
to the European average of 7.5%, large differences are to be seen
in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Romania, countries where digital
records an incidence slightly above or below 20%. Iceland and Norway
stand at around 15%, whilst the United Kingdom is at around 12%,
France around 11% and Portugal and Russia around 9%. Finland, Poland,
Slovenia and Switzerland are in line with the average for the continent.
Amongst the territories coming below this average are Italy (5%),
Spain and Germany (4%).
Growth is affected by
3D but not only
The engine of growth in this acceleration, which took place in the
first half of 2009, is certainly 3D cinema: the American industry
has substantially respected the calendar of releases announced,
audiences have proved receptive and willing to pay more for a ticket
to take advantage of the novelty, exhibitors have decided to invest
in the technology that enables them to offer the new type of product.
The incidence of screens equipped with a 3D system with respect
to the overall number of digital screens has risen more or less
everywhere to reach 55% in Europe overall.
Alongside this phenomenon, however, comes the launch or continuation
of conversions to digital in whole chains and – often - whole
complexes (this is the case of the CGR in France), or the appearance
of digital on markets that have been totally lacking in this technology
up to the present.
In the first half of 2009 the “new enrolments” have
been Cyprus (1 screen), Lithuania (4), the Serb Republic (2), Slovakia
(4). Thus, the total of Europe’s digitalized countries now
amounts to 34.
© Copyright MEDIA Salles
* This table slightly modifies
the one published by MEDIA Salles on 21 October 2009, during the
European Workshop “The Digital Cinema Revolution”, held
click here to see the table showing the situation as at 1st
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In the shape of a giant indoor-tennis
centre, in actual fact the cinema complex with the largest audiences
in the whole of the Scandinavian region: this is the Kamppi Tennispalatsi,
at the heart of Helsinki’s shopping area, just a few steps
away from the Esplanade, the fashionable place to go for a stroll
in the Finnish capital. With its 14 screens, it draws a million
and a half spectators every year, despite its modest and impersonal
appearance, particularly when we consider that we are within walking
distance of buildings that are icons of twentieth-century architecture,
such as E. Saarinen’s central station and the House of Finland
by A. Aalto. The “location”, the quality of sound and
vision, together with a clever marketing strategy, seem to be the
keys to the success of this urban multiplex, the flower in the buttonhole
of Finnkino, the exhibition company which covers around 60% of the
Finnish market. Tennispalatsi boasts some surprising records: its
number 1 theatre is not only the largest in the country (703 seats)
but has recently gone 100% digital. In fact, the 35mm projector
has yielded to a Christie 2K which is also equipped for 3D presentations.
To make it even more special, Finnkino has fitted this theatre with
an area corresponding to the “royal box” of the most
prestigious theatres, re-baptized the “presidential suite”
in republican style. For those who want to experience the thrill
of seeing a film in this sector for 17 privileged people, separated
from the rest of the audience by a pane of sound-proof glass and
equipped with an independent sound installation, it is not so much
blue blood as a bit of luck that is needed. There is a storm of
bookings – particularly from companies, who frequently combine
the screening with a cocktail party or social event in the adjacent
Vip Lounge and lobbies – and 2 days out of 3 the suite is
occupied during the business season, from mid August to mid June.
This is a decidedly interesting piece of business for Finnkino,
considering that the overall price for the 17 exclusive seats (with
limited access) starts at 600 euros, to which the cost of a reception
must be added. With a hardly negligible ‘extra’: a private
cocktail party is the only occasion on which it is possible to drink
alcohol at the cinema.
The full version of this article
was published in Italian in the “Giornale dello Spettacolo”
no. 15, 1st September 2009.
Finnkino’s Tennispalatsi, Helsinki
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