CINEMA-GOING IN EUROPE: AN INCREASE
IN ADMISSIONS IN 2006 BUT NOT EVERYWHERE.
IN EUROPE A SLOWDOWN IN THE GROWTH OF MULTIPLEXES,
DIGITAL SCREENS WORLDWIDE INCREASE FOURFOLD.
A better year, but not for everyone. Following a 2005 marked by a minus
sign almost everywhere, the year that has just ended has represented
a breath of fresh air for European cinema exhibition in general.
This is what is revealed by MEDIA Salles, anticipating
to the Berlin Festival the publication of figures on cinema-going in
Europe in 2006, included in the “final 2006” edition of
the European Yearbook, which is being presented today, 15 February,
during the traditional “Italian Breakfast” at the
CineStar Imax in the Sony Center, and which can be downloaded
free of charge from the MEDIA Salles website at the address http://www.mediasalles.it/yearbook.htm
With regard to 2006, the Yearbook collects figures
from 29 European countries, that can be analysed under a variety of
different headings: the markets of the European Union and those, in
many cases coinciding with the former, of course, of Western Europe
on the one hand, Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim
on the other.
What emerges from these figures is a 2006 that is generally speaking
better than the previous year, but not for everyone. Following a 2005
marked by a minus sign almost everywhere in the world, the year that
has just ended has represented a breath of fresh air for European cinema
exhibition in general.
In the European Union, the figures
already available, which regard 24 countries, register an average increase
in spectators of around 3.4%, rising from 877.7 to 907.6 million.
The 17 countries of Western Europe that have made their
figures available, reveal an average increase in admissions of around
2.6%. A good sign for the future, though not measuring up to expectations,
if we consider that in various countries the first half of the year
was characterised by a two-figure increase. But the improvement nevertheless
took place – from 843.9 to 865.8 million admissions – and
two of the continent’s five big markets were mainly responsible
for contributing to this. In first place comes France which, with over
188 million spectators (+8.2% compared to 2005), achieves the second
best result since 1984. Next comes Germany which sees an audience growth
of 7.4% compared to 2005. However, despite an increase of over 9 million
spectators, this market does not succeed in recovering the heavy drop
recorded between 2004 and 2005. The total of 136.7 million spectators
still remains below the average for the 2000s (over 150 million). Increasing,
though only just, is a third large market, Italy, where estimates regarding
screens operating at least 60 days a year, speak of an average yearly
increment of 1.7%, following an initial six months that had recorded
a rise of over 10%. Also marked by a plus sign are smaller markets such
as Finland (here estimates speak of +12%), Austria (+10.6%), The Netherlands
(+9.1%), Ireland (+8.9%), Belgium (+8.7%), Switzerland (+8.5%), Luxembourg
(+8.1%), Norway (+5.5%), Sweden (+4.6%), Denmark (+2.6%) and Greece
(+2.4%). Going against the trend is Liechtenstein, which loses 3.8%.
Suffering from a considerable drop in audiences are two of the five
big countries: the United Kingdom and Spain, which share a decrease
of 4.9% compared to 2005. Whilst the former, although losing almost
8 million tickets, obtains a result in line with those of the first
few years of the 2000s, Spain, losing about 6 million spectators, drops
to 121.4 million admissions, the lowest result since 1998. For the second
consecutive year the number of screens in Spain decreases, too, diminishing
by over 200 units over a two-year period. From 1990 to 2004 the number
of screens had experienced an uninterrupted run of growth.
Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean
Rim obtain decidedly flattering results, generally speaking,
recording admissions increasing by 17.6% in the 12 countries whose results
are known. Spectators thus increase from 90.2 to 106.0 million. Here
too, however, there is no escape from the general trend, which sees
quite different situations in the individual territories. An increase
is registered in Slovenia (+10.9%) and in the Czech Republic (+8.7%).
All with above-average growth are both big markets such as Poland (+28.2%),
which recovers almost all the spectators lost in 2005, and Turkey (+26.3%),
as well as smaller countries such as the Slovak Republic (+55.7%), Estonia
(+40.1%) and Latvia (+22.7%).
Instead, decreases are recorded in Serbia and Montenegro (-36.7%) and
to a smaller extent in Romania (-4.6%), Hungary (-3.8%), Bulgaria (-2.5%)
and Cyprus (-1.1%).
Multiplexes in Europe: little growth, many
changes in ownership. In Europe as a whole, complexes with
at least 8 screens rose in number, between October 2005 and October
2006, from 1,013 to 1,060, for a total of respectively 10,918 and 11,393
This is a growth trend that has been going on without a break since
the mid-Nineties but which has slowed down lately (the growth rate between
2005 and 2005 was of 7.5%). If many more multiplexes are not opened,
the latest trend emerging from an analysis of the situation country
by country as shown in the Yearbook, proves extremely dynamic, especially
as regards changes in ownership, with companies quitting territories
(such as Intercom in Hungary and Romania) and businesses consolidating
their presence on the market through takeovers (for example Cinesa in
Spain and Mediapro in Romania) or mergers (for example, again in Spain,
Abaco and Cinebox).
Boom in digital screens worldwide.
The second half of 2006 confirmed a trend that had already manifested
itself at the beginning of the year: the considerable increase in screens
equipped with digital projectors using DLP CinemaTM technology.
The total worldwide over a 12-month period increased almost four times
over, rising from 595 to 2,866, with a 382% increase. Moreover, the
different continents deal with the digital transition at highly varying
rates: in the same period North America grew by 1,031%, totalling 1,957
installations, Europe by 168% (531) and Asia by 70% (347). The number
of complexes housing digital screens grew from 456 to 982 in 2006, meaning
that the average number of digital projectors per site has risen from
1.3 to 2.9. This can be considered further proof of the fact that exhibition
companies tend to consider the installation of a digital projector not
so much a technical trial with the aim of becoming familiar with a new
type of equipment, but a strategic choice.
MEDIA Salles, a project operating
within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme,
with the support of the Italian Government, fosters
theatrical distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high
profile campaigns involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives
to raise the visibility of European productions with industry players
and potential audiences, creating specialized information channels on
a global scale. Thus the current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail
in a program with a triple focus – training, promotion and information
– and maximum combined effect.
Via Soperga, 2 – I-20127 Milan
Tel.: +39.02.66984405 – Fax: +39.02.6691574