This document presents the results of Part 1 of the study
of the cinema exhibition industry in the European Union (EU). It was commissioned
by MEDIA Salles, an initiative of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union
with the support of the Italian Government, and undertaken by BIPE Conseil.
The study includes the results of a field survey carried out by BIPE Conseil
with the contribution from the Centre National de la Cinématographie.
The document aims to describe the principal characteristics of the cinema
exhibition sector in Europe: cinema ownership and concentration; relationships
between the different players in the value chain; the provision of screens,
in terms of location and technical standards; the position of art-house
and experimental cinemas, and state intervention in the industry. It is
therefore intended to complement the European Cinema Yearbook first
produced by MEDIA Salles in 1992 than revised annually. The Yearbook
provided the principal statistical information on Europe's screens.
This report is the product of several research initiatives carried out
jointly by BIPE Conseil and a team of national consultants(1):
(1) The national consultants are
listed in Annex 4
In each country, a survey was undertaken based on interviews
with a sample of exhibitors and distributors as well as the public authorities.
These national surveys enabled the collection of comprehensive information,
summarised in the monographs appended to this report.
Thorough documentary research, complementing the information
collected in the national surveys.
More than 3,000 screens were surveyed by postal questionnaires,
with a telephone "follow-up" in most cases. Nearly 1,000 questionnaires
were completed and returned. Our sample represented 6 per cent of all screens
in the EU - a respectable proportion for a survey of this kind.
A questionnaire-based survey of a sample of screens was carried
out in the spring of 1993 in each country. The survey had three objectives:
to collect empirical data on the sector which were unavailable
from existing sources
to fill in gaps in the data relating to certain aspects of
the exhibition industry in all the countries of the European Union, notably
with regard to the technical characteristics of cinemas
to compare the conditions governing exhibition in relation
to specific criteria, including location, circuits versus independents
and screen size.
These different sources were brought together to produce
as complete a picture as possible of the cinema exhibition industry in
the European Union.
The principal weaknesses
of the European exhibition industry
· The strong variations in national
markets constitute a formidable obstacle to policy-making at the European
level. These variations are particularly evident at the levels of:
the structure of the industry (density, types of cinema)
the position of the sector vis-à-vis the public authorities
· The case of Greece, where
the exhibition sector is almost dying, in the absence of any intervention
by commercial players or the public authorities.
the integration of the sector and the nature of the dominant players (national
players, subsidiaries of the US majors, etc.).
· The recent trends in the
market (the increasing importance of multiplexes, the internationalisation
of companies active in exhibition) seem to favour the US communications
groups, which may well be at the expense of the European players. This
phenomenon seems imminent in the case of markets lacking strong national
players and without any substantial State support.
· At the European level, there
is a weakening of the position of the less integrated players, particularly
independent self-programming exhibitors. This weakening is accentuated
by the absence of corporate structures which could bring independents together
in consortia, and give them negotiating power with distributors and other
players within the sector.
· Programming strategies are not
used as a way of differentiating individual cinemas or circuits. This phenomenon
is encountered throughout Europe and, with the exception of the networks
of Art and Experimental cinemas, there is no fundamental difference in
approach between the independents and the circuits. This state of affairs
seems difficult to avoid in a context where the distributors' control over
cinema programming is very great.
· The increasing marginalisation
of the non-national European film at the European level in terms of admissions
should also be noted.
The strengths of the European exhibition industry
· The existence of a handful of European
players, who must work to maintain their national position and their expansion
into the other European countries (the French circuits, Kinepolis Group,
UFA, Lusomundo, Nordisk, etc.) and adapt their strategy to the new needs
of the market (the creation of multiplexes, cinema modernisation, etc.)
· A sector which is still
well-catered for in terms of the number of screens, even in countries which
have experienced a strong market contraction (like Italy).
· A well-established tradition of
industry organisations in the sector (numerous associations or specific
agencies for the cinema were created after the Second World War) which
provides a corporate or regulatory framework for an activity which otherwise
is based on an economic model of an extremely competitive market. The existence
of this administrative or associative framework provides the vehicles for
creating a European strategy for the sector.
· The good health of the Art and
Experimental sector, which functions as a network of its own. Even if the
fact that art-houses have become the main channel for European films is
to be deplored, one notices that Europe still boasts one group of exhibitors
that have suffered little from the contraction of admissions. In certain
countries, this sector even shows a potential for growth. It is necessary
to turn our attention to the notion of art-houses, to look to enlarge them,
and to maintain a modern concept of the activity of these cinemas, which
are often the guarantors of a choice of programming in exhibition which
is becoming increasingly standardised.
· The maintenance, at the European
level, of a respectable share for national films in each country.