Foreword by Jens Rykær




Dear readers,

ever since the first edition of the “European Cinema Yearbook”, it has been a keen objective for MEDIA Salles to give relevant, precise and reliable statistical information about the cinema business, as we strongly believe that only information straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak is worth anything for further analysis among colleagues, scholars, politicians and other media. Therefore it has also been imperative to develop and expand the tables whenever new phenomena appeared in our arena like the multiplex model in the nineties.

In the past decade the big challenge has been the implementation of digital technology in cinemas. It has rightfully been characterized as the biggest cinematic revolution since the invention of sound on film. As we all know by now, the technology is there but so many other basic implications still seem to slow down the definitive global roll out of this remarkable technical achievement. Worldwide we have a little under 150,000 cinemas but, as you will find in this edition of the “European Cinema Yearbook”, still very few cinemas have actually gone digital. The Hollywood studios exercise strong pressure in order to speed up the process – so much money to be saved on prints and distribution – but for the majority of cinemas the bottom line is where to find the money for this rather expensive investment. Since there are few signs of a reduction in prices, as it is, small and medium-sized cinemas will have to look for additional funding. It has happened in Great Britain, it’s going to happen in Norway (which is an exception anyway because of its unique municipal cinema structure), in Finland and in some regions in Italy, but anywhere else the answer to the cinema owners’ prayer is still blowing in the wind.

Apart from the financial issue, other questionable areas remain, like the transition period from 35mm to digital, the handling of the “keys” (who decides when and where the digital prints are screened), expenses for maintenance of the software and its durability. In general it is difficult to make predictions about the future. Add to this the global financial crisis that has hit any business’s relationship with its bank.

The revival of 3D is presently being used as motivation in order to invest in digital and certainly the box-office can boast of remarkable results when compared to regular 2D screenings, but when including the general expansion of the market the result is maybe not so impressive as it seems. At least 3D has not yet attained big-time roll out. Nevertheless I have no doubt that it will happen – eventually but not as fast as one would have expected.

Among thousands of pieces of information in the “European Cinema Yearbook”, these are just some of those that can be learnt from studying it.

Jens Rykær
President of MEDIA Salles