The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the body representing European cinema trade associations and key operators, today released its provisional update on admissions and box office revenues across Europe for 2017.
While some data remains to be collated and figures for certain territories are based only on initial estimates, the overview provided by UNIC represents the first wide-ranging assessment of the performance of the European cinema sector in 2017. More detailed final data on the performance of each territory will be released in Spring 2018.
2017 was another year of growth for the European cinema industry. While total admissions for EU member states (where data was available) decreased slightly by 0.6 per cent compared to 2016, total admissions for all UNIC territories increased by 2.1 per cent, totaling more than 1.3 billion visits to the cinema.
This increase was the result of both cinema operators’ continued investment in audience development initiatives and a slate of highly successful local films across Europe. As has been the case for previous years however, box office was mainly driven by international titles, including, but not limited to, Beauty and the Beast, Despicable Me 3, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Fate of the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Once final box office figures for all UNIC territories are available, total box office revenues will be shared.
Despite a slight 1.8 per cent decrease in admissions, France experienced its third-best performance of the past 50 years, bolstered by successful local films Raid Dingue and Valérian et la Cité des Mille Planètes. Similarly, the UK enjoyed a record-breaking year (box office +2.5 per cent / admissions +1.4 per cent) as did Russia, reaching over 200 million admissions for the first time to become the biggest UNIC territory in terms of admissions.
Germany experienced mixed results following a disappointing 2016, with a strong 3.2 per cent increase in box office while admissions grew by 1.0 per cent. This was despite the success of local production Fack Ju Göhte 3, which also made it to the box office top five in Austria, where total box office was -1.9 per cent and admissions -3.6 per cent. In comparison, Switzerland experienced a stable year (box office +0.8 per cent / admissions +0.8 per cent) with the help of local production Die Göttliche Ordnung.
While Portugal enjoyed another year of growth (box office +5.6 per cent / admissions +4.4 per cent), Spanish cinema operators finished 2017 just shy of the symbolic mark of 100 million admissions, with a local animation film Tadeo Jones 2: El Secreto del Rey Midas in the box office top five. Following a positive 2016, the Italian industry suffered from a lack of highly successful local and international titles (box office -11.6 per cent / admissions -12.4 per cent).
Turkey continues to grow at an exponential rate (box office +25.9 per cent / admissions +22.1 per cent) with national productions dominating the box office. Greece enjoyed a stable year (box office +0.9 per cent / admissions +0.7 per cent), adding to the positive results witnessed in the region and the renewed success of cinemas in the wider Balkans, including Bosnia-Herzegovina (box office +21.0 per cent / admissions +17.8 per cent) and Croatia (box office +5.8 per cent / admissions +5.7 per cent).
As has often been the case, local productions were amongst the most successful films of the year in all four Scandinavian countries. Nevertheless, varying results were experienced, as Denmark (box office -4.1 per cent / admissions -7.4 per cent) suffered another year of decline, while Norway’s negative results (box office -8.3 per cent / admissions -10.3 per cent) followed a record-breaking 2016. On the other hand, Finland experienced a fantastic year (box office +8.8 per cent / admissions +3.0 per cent) with a local production leading the box office once again.
The cinema industry in several Central and Eastern European territories continues to experience growth, as once again highlighted in 2017. Poland recorded another record year (box office +10.8 per cent / admissions +8.7 per cent), with three local films ranked in the box office top five for a market share of 23.2 per cent. In Slovakia, admissions increased by more than one million, as the Czech Republic enjoyed its second-best performance of all time despite a slight decrease of 0.3 per cent in box office and 2.5 per cent in admissions. Romania (box office +14.0 per cent / admissions +11.3 per cent), Bulgaria (box office +4.7 per cent / admissions +0.8 per cent) and Hungary (box office +4.1 per cent / admissions +1.9 per cent) all experienced similarly positive results. The same trend could be observed in Ukraine, a territory represented by UNIC since June 2017, where provisional figures indicate a 32.2 per cent growth in box office and admissions.
Admissions per capita for all UNIC territories (where data was available) remained at 1.6 visits per year. France and Ireland (both at 3.3) experienced the highest rates of cinema going.
Due to incomplete figures for several countries, it is too early to assess the total market share for European films in 2017. Turkey (56.7 per cent), France (37.4 per cent) and Finland (28.0 per cent) experienced the highest national films’ market share across UNIC territories.