2023 Sees Further Strong Performances Across European Cinema Territories With 24% Box Office Growth

Brussels, Belgium ( February 14, 2024 ) -

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), representing European cinema operators and trade associations, has today released 2023 box office and admissions data for its 39 territories. The figures represent the first assessment of European cinemas’ performance last year, based on preliminary estimates. Detailed final data will be released later in the spring.

2023 proved to be a successful year for European cinemas thanks to smash-hit international titles including “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer”, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and “Wonka,” as well as a wide range of highly popular national releases.

With figures for several territories still to be confirmed, UNIC estimates that European admissions increased by 21% and that total box office for the year will reach €7.1 billion – a rise of 24% in Europe and 25% in the EU compared with 2022, the latter being only 8% below the 2017-2019 results.

The Netherlands, Croatia, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro ended the year with box office revenues above their 2017-2019 average. The Dutch achieved nearly 32 million admissions, 27% more than in 2022 and earned €338 million, an increase of 31% on 2022. Serbia and Montenegro saw a box office increase of 27% compared to 2022, mainly thanks to the local title “Guardians of the Formula. “Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia were on par with pre-pandemic box office results.

German box office takings totalled €859 million, up 24% from 2022, while total admissions increased year-on-year by 19% to 87 million.

France achieved 181 million admissions, a 19% increase compared with 2022. The UK box office generated total revenues of over £978.5 million, an 8.5% increase.

The Italian box office earned €496 million and cinema admissions totalled 71 million, impressive increases of 62% and 59% respectively on 2022. In Spain, admissions increased by 22% to 75 million with box office of €489 million.

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the simultaneous release of two films that captivated audiences worldwide. Warner Bros’ “Barbie” grossed an astounding $1.44 billion globally, topping the charts in the UK and Ireland (£96 million), Germany (€55.3 million), and many other European countries. The Greta Gerwig-helmed feature was also the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ “Oppenheimer” earned over $952 million worldwide. With many audiences embracing a double feature with “Barbie,” and often in premium formats, the phenomenon termed “Barbenheimer” helped deliver an extraordinary summer in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, the UK, Spain and Italy to name a few.

Not to be overlooked, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” earned more than a billion dollars worldwide, while “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” set a new record for the highest global opening weekend for a concert film at $128 million. Released in October 2023 across 94 territories and over 4,500 venues, the four times album of the year Grammy winner achieved the top spot in the US, UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Local titles also played a key role in 2023’s cinematic success story. In France, 12 national films scored over a million admissions with three reaching the year’s top 10: “Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom” (4.6 million admissions), “Alibi.com 2” (4.3 million), and “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan” (3.4 million). In Romania, for the first time, as many as four domestic releases ended up in the top 10. “Miami Bici” 2 was seen by 430,000 cinema-goers in just three weeks.

In Italy, the market share of local films also increased, achieving 24.3% of total revenues and 25.9% of admissions. Italian titles grossed €120.7 million in 2023, twice as much as in 2022. The Italian dramedy’ “C’è ancora domani” was the top-grossing film of the year with box office takings of €32.9 million, becoming the fifth most successful Italian film ever in the country to date.

In Norway, during the Christmas holiday season, three out of four cinema tickets were sold for a Norwegian film, such as “Bukkene Bruse på Badeland” and “Den første julen i Skomakergata”. Through the year as a whole, Norwegian films accounted for 23.7% of total revenues.

In Denmark, four local titles reached the top 10 – “Meter i sekundet, Når befrielsen kommer, Bastarden,” “Kysset” – and were watched by a total audience of 1.1 million, delivering the same market share as “Barbenheimer.” In autumn 2023, 35% of Danish households bought at least one cinema ticket.

National Cinema Days achieved significant success across Europe, with millions able to enjoy the Big Screen experience at discounted prices. France’s “La Fête du Cinéma” attracted 3.1 million cinema-goers in its 38th year. Italy’s “Cinema in Festa” and Spain’s “Fiesta del Cine” proved very popular, while Poland’s “?wi?to Kina”, with tickets at 12 PLN (€2.60), drew an audience of 550,000 with Polish films accounting for 40% of ticket sales.

Laura Houlgatte, CEO of UNIC, said:

“”The impressive figures for 2023 show that the Big Screen has lost none of its allure for European audiences, with a mix of fantastic international films and superb national titles. The sheer diversity of programming and experience on offer means cinemas have something for every taste and every age group.”

“This is an industry with an unparalleled record of innovation and which continues to deliver. Some challenges remain – the impact of the Hollywood strikes and increased operational costs among them – but 2023 is proof that cinemas are as popular as ever.”

Gower Street Analytics estimates that the 2024 Global box office will reach $31.5 billion, with EMEA estimated to reach $8 billion.

About The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC)
UNIC is the European trade grouping representing cinema exhibitors and their national trade associations across 39 European territories. More information available on unic-cinemas.org.