on European Exhibition”
promoted by MEDIA Salles
with Dodona Research
Monday 21 June, 11.15
am - RAI Trade Fair district, Congress Centre, Room A
Cinemas in Europe and
films from Europe: these are the two themes that MEDIA Salles highlighted
in the “Focus on Europe” event, organised at Amsterdam at Cinema Expo International
The results of European
production in cinemas, the facts and trends that characterise exhibition
in the continent’s five great markets, in Scandinavia, in Benelux and in
Eastern and Central Europe – these were the subjects of the seminar that
opened Cinema Expo. Chaired by Karsten-Peter Grummitt from Dodona Research,
the round table hosted contributions from:
Steve Knibbs (UCI - UK),
Jaime Tarrazón Jr
(ACEC - E),
Timo Mänty (Finnkino
George Mihaly (H) and
Lauge Nielsen (Pathé
These were followed by the
analysis carried out by Joachim Ph. Wolff, President of UNIC, on the market
shares of European films in cinemas.
The aim of the meeting
was to define the position of the consumer market in an area which, after
the exceptional 1998 results in many countries in terms of tickets sold
(although not without some warning signs), was characterised at the beginning
of ’99 by a slight fall in demand. In his analysis of four of the most
important markets – Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy – Steve Knibbs
pointed out that European exhibition is experiencing 1999 as a waiting
period, in the hope of repeating the success of Titanic thanks to the Star
Wars prequel. He added that the drop in audiences that occurred in the
cinemas of Great Britain during ’98, as opposed to the trend on other markets,
could be seen as a warning. It does not seem sufficient to explain the
disaffection of British audiences merely as a passing phenomenon, linked
to the soccer World Cup. Great Britain – and also Germany, which experienced
a decidedly lower increase in audiences compared to Italy, France and Spain
in ’98 – should, instead, reflect on the excessive offer which now appears
to be a salient feature in some areas.
The risk of an excessive
number of screens – as in the cases of Valladolid and Burgos – was also
brought up by Jaime Tarrazón, who described developments in Spanish
cinemas. Set in motion and consolidated mainly by home companies, this
phenomenon now sees the involvement of the large, international groups.
Relatively low building costs and comparatively reasonable ticket prices
are two of the factors which have allowed Spain to increase both the number
of screens and that of audiences over the past decade. On this broadly
positive scenario there are, however, some disturbing signs, such as the
progressively lower number of tickets sold per screen.
George Mihaly concentrated
particularly on this theme of the ratio between investments and cost of
tickets in his analysis of the situation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Whilst there is a wave of new multiplexes and announcements of ambitious
building projects on the three main markets – Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic – 1998 saw a considerable drop in audiences. According to Mihaly,
the main reason, as regards Poland, lies in the excessive increase in prices.
Having been increased for Titanic, tickets did not return to their previous
prices. Moreover, once they had seen the “big event” film, Polish audiences
were no longer ready to pay such a high price to see a “normal” film. Nevertheless,
Mihaly continued, in order to finance the modernisation of cinemas in Central
and Eastern Europe, thus allowing the area to develop its potential, the
price of tickets must be raised. Mihaly believes, for example, that Hungary,
which boasts the most modern structures, could raise the price of tickets
from around 2,5 euros to 3,5 euros straight away.
The basically stable
situation of the Scandinavian countries, where screens and audiences have
remained more or less unaltered for several years, contrasts with the dynamism
that seems to characterise the markets mentioned so far. Lately, however,
there have been signs of new-found vitality amongst the companies traditionally
operating in this area in the field of distribution and exhibition.
Timo Mänty, for
example, quoted the alliance of the Swedish Sandrews with the Danish Metronome,
which resulted in the opening of a complex in Helsinki – where Finnkino,
too, had just inaugurated its 14 screens at the Tennispalatsi – and the
preparation of projects for the Balkans and St. Petersburg.
The Swedish SF also aims
to increase its scope of activity, firstly in Norway. According to Mänty,
new complexes will certainly be built in Scandinavia, too, although at
a slower rate than in Great Britain and Germany, partly as a consequence
of the high costs involved and of regulation by the public authorities.
A scenario that is similar
in many ways was described for the Netherlands by Lauge Nielsen. On this
market, where only Pathé can boast any solid experience of multiplexes,
several projects have already been announced. In the near future operators
foresee an increase in audiences which should allow the Netherlands to
reduce Belgium’s lead. The latter boasts a per capita frequency of 2,4
but now has the features of a mature market.
Commenting on the increase
in tickets sold in Western Europe in the nineties, J. Ph. Wolff concluded
the seminar by pointing out that non domestic European films have unfortunately
failed to benefit from this increase and tend to attract the same numbers
of spectators every year.
The presentation of the
2nd issue of the MEDIA Salles Newsletter “European Cinema Journal”
opened the Seminar.
2nd issue of the
MEDIA Salles Newsletter “European Cinema Journal”
Multiplexes are still
on the increase in Europe: in only six months 57 (626 screens) have been
opened, which, together with those already in existence, brings the total
to 401. In terms of screens, this means 4 230 throughout Europe.
Amongst those newly opened,
the “extra large” are prominent: 8 new megaplexes (sites with 16 or more
screens), 3 of which in Spain alone, give a considerable boost to a formula
which, up to June ’98, counted only 13 sites in Europe. Again, it is Spain
that holds the record for capacity: the new Kinepolis in Madrid, with its
25 screens, can accommodate 9 094 spectators.
This, and a wealth of
further news on multiplexes and European cinemas, with statistical tables
and in-depth comment, are contained in the 2nd issue of the European Cinema
Journal, the quarterly Newsletter published by MEDIA Salles. Articles include
the conclusions on the Panel “Europe looks to America. America needs Europe,”
held in Cannes on 18 May last and attended by over 200 European operators
interested in the American market: a meeting which provided many interesting
clues as to the real opportunities for a move by European cinema to “conquer