The aim of the White Book of the European Exhibition Industry is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of the European cinema exhibition sector. The three papers that make up Volume 2 of the White Book focus on particular issues relevant for exhibitors and those national and supranational government authorities concerned with the development of the film industry in general, and of exhibition in particular. These issues include: The issue of multiplex cinemas has been a constant theme in the debate over the future of the exhibition sector ever since the purpose-built multi-screen complexes were first built in Europe after having been successfully introduced in the US. Their success, particularly in the UK, has stirred the debate about the need to introduce them on large scale in other countries which already have a more modernised exhibition sector than the UK had in the mid-eighties. And in those countries where they had been successfully introduced the discussion focuses on the dangers of over-investment in excessive capacity to the detriment of all exhibitors. A wide ranging analysis of the impact of multiplex cinemas in Europe that is based on the survey of over 1,000 screens as well as economic and econometric analysis is timely and serves to explain the success of multiplex cinemas from first principles as well as from a careful analysis of empirical evidence.
The issue of vertical integration strategies by larger groups of both European and non-European cinema chains is foremost a description of a trend that is often discussed in the political debate. As in other industries that have been traditionally characterised by a highly fragmented structure of independently owned and operated enterprises, the strategies of larger groups with significant involvement in other parts of the entertainment industries, has raised the issue of whether the resulting concentration of businesses worked for or against independent exhibitors. It also raises the issue of the degree of control that integrated distribution and exhibition companies can exercise along the exploitation chain. Section 2 serves to focus this debate by demonstrating the current state of vertical integration in Europe and by profiling the main group of companies that have a major involvement in both exhibition and distribution.
The third and last section deals with the role that exhibition plays in the promotion of European film, one of the aims of MEDIA Salles, an initiative of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union with the support of the Italian Government. It serves as a useful reminder of the specific situation of cinema as the retailing function in the exploitation chain of film. As general retailers of film cinemas try to attract a great number of customers and rely on attractive products on the one hand and the maintenance of well-equipped and modern outlets on the other hand. Unless they are dedicated to the showing of a particular genre of film they offer an open competitive structure for both European and non-European films.
What the case studies in section 3 try to demonstrate is the crucial role of promotion at the distribution level rather than exhibition for the promotion of European film.
With these three sections Volume 2 of the White Book contributes to a better understanding of the crucial issues that affect policy making at both the Community level and the national level. The analysis deepens the findings from the survey of exhibition in Volume 1, particularly as it relates to the diversity of the exhibition sector across European countries and the common trends of modernisation, concentration and integration.