While most COVID restrictions were lifted early on in the year, 2022 was still marked by many of the challenges observed during the preceding pandemic years, including hesitancy among audiences to return to cinemas, a lower number of releases from the United States, a weak summer slate and some remaining restrictions during the first half of the year in some countries. As a result, cinema attendance in the European Union and the United Kingdom increased by 63% from 403 million tickets sold in 2021 to an estimated 657 million in 2022, representing 67% of the average pre-pandemic admission level registered between 2017 and 2019.
Similarly, gross box office grew by 70% from EUR 2.99 billion (USD $3.3. billion) to an estimated EUR 5.07 billion (USD $5.5 billion), accounting for 72% of the average pre-pandemic box office level. Thanks to public crisis support, the number of cinema screens continued to remain comparatively stable at cumulative level, decreasing only by about 300 screens from 32 833 screens in 2019, to 32 526 screens operational in the EU and the UK in 2022.
While admissions increased in all EU member states and the UK, there were significant differences with regard to the year-on-year growth which ranged from a 241% increase in Latvia to a 19% increase in Poland. The same is true for recovery rates, where Denmark and the Czech Republic were the leading European markets with admissions reaching 82% and 81% of the pre-pandemic average respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, cinema attendance in Italy and Greece represented only 49% and 57% of their pre-pandemic averages.
European films performed well and market share for European films increased year-on-year from 26.8% to 28.4% in 2022.