GBO in Europe Up to EUR 6.7 Billion in 2023, Cinema Attendance Reached 861 Million Tickets Sold

Cinema attendance in wider Europe grew by 18.3% in 2023, reaching over 861 million tickets sold
Strasbourg, France ( May 7, 2024 ) -
  • Gross box office in wider Europe (Council of Europe member states except Azerbaijan) grew by 22.3% in 2023 compared with 2022, from EUR 5.5 billion to EUR 6.7 billion, down by 12% on pre-pandemic levels.
  • “Barbie” (US/GB), “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (US/JP), and “Oppenheimer” (US/GB) topped the European box office year-end chart. “Astérix & Obélix: L’Empire du Milieu” (FR) shone as the most successful European film of the year.
  • European films accounted for more than a quarter of tickets sold (26.4%), while the market share of American titles achieved a new high of 70.1%.
  • Film production in wider Europe reached 2347 titles, second-highest figure after 2019.
  • The upward trend in cinema attendance persists, with admissions growing by 18.3% in 2023 to surpass 860 million
    In the first year unaffected by restrictions related to the now four-year-old global pandemic, cinema attendance in wider Europe (Council of Europe member states except for Azerbaijan, hereafter referred to simply as “Europe”) grew by 18.3%, reaching over 861 million tickets sold, 133 million more than in 2022. These satisfactory results represent a recovery rate of 77.3% in relation to the average admission levels achieved between 2017 and 2019 of 1.1 billion tickets sold.

    Admissions in the European Union and United Kingdom (EU27+UK) saw slightly stronger growth, increasing by 19.6% to 784 million. In the region, admission levels remained 20.1% lower than pre-pandemic averages of 982 million tickets.

    Inflation and rising ticket prices contributed to better box office revenues. Cinemas across Europe are estimated to have grossed EUR 6.7 billion in 2023, a 22.3% growth compared to 2022 (EUR 5.5 billion). Similarly, box office figures in EU27+UK grew by 22.1%, settling at EUR 6.2 billion.

    Despite these positive trends at a macro level, the variance in growth among individual countries remains noteworthy. In 2023, Ukraine (+60.1%), Italy (+59.2%), and Albania (+42.0%) saw the most substantial increases in cinema attendance. Conversely, Czechia (-1.2%), Denmark (-1.9%), and Turkey (-12.9%) were the only countries witnessing a decline. Notably, Georgia and Bosnia & Herzegovina outpaced pre-pandemic attendance levels, boasting recovery rates of 117% and 113%, respectively. However, challenges persist for countries such as Sweden (recovery rate: 68%), Ukraine (50%), and Turkey (46%) in reclaiming pre-pandemic highs.

    “Barbie” sold close to 50 million tickets in 2023. “Astérix & Obelix” topped the year-end box office chart of European films
    Out of the 13 796 feature films screened in cinemas across Europe in 2023, 14 titles managed to exceed 10 million tickets sold, while 113 (including 39 European productions) achieved over 1 million admissions.

    Unsurprisingly, American studio feature films maintained their dominance in the 2023 European theatrical market, once again monopolizing the entire year-end top 20.

    Four standout titles attracted significant attention, each surpassing 30 million admissions. Leading the pack was “Barbie”, selling an impressive 49.3 million tickets. The Warner Bros. blockbuster was followed by “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (36.1 million admissions), “Oppenheimer” (35.1 million admissions), and “Avatar: The Way of Water” (34.4 million admissions in 2023 alone, accumulating to 69.2 million since its late 2022 release).

    The most watched European title of the year was the French production “Astérix & Obélix: L’Empire du Milieu”, amassing 6.4 million admissions and securing the 25th spot in the year-end chart. “C’è ancora domani”, an Italian black and white feature set in post-war Rome, ranked as the second European film in terms of admissions, selling close to 4.9 million tickets across only two markets: Italy and Italian-speaking Switzerland. Rounding up the top 5 were the French comedy sequel “ 2” (4.5 million admissions), the Warner Bros.-backed Spanish animation film “Mummies” (4.5 million admissions), and the star-studded French epic “Les trois mousquetaires: D’Artagnan” (4.0 million admissions).

    National box office hits helped increase national market shares in 17 countries, while the share of European productions declined to 26.4%
    In 2023, American films achieved an important market share in terms of admissions, exceeding the 70% milestone for the first time in recent years and marking a notable 7.4 percentage point increase from 2022. This remarkable performance by American titles came at the expense of European films and incoming European productions, which experienced respective declines of 3.9 and 3.3 percentage points. Consequently, European films’ market share sank to 26.4%, reaching its lowest point in recent history and dropping by 2.4 percentage points compared to pre-pandemic averages. European incoming productions also hit a new low with a mere 0.9% market share, attributed to the absence of successful Studio-backed European releases in 2023, such as those seen in previous years from popular franchises like Harry Potter and James Bond.

    Regarding the diversity of offerings, European films maintained a dominant position, constituting over 66% of the total titles available in European cinemas throughout 2023. Meanwhile, American films comprised 19.7% of the offering, with productions from the rest of the world making up 13.2% of the available content.

    National market shares within European countries experienced growth in 17 out of the 34 markets with available data. Despite retaining its position as the country with the highest national market share at 44.0%, Türkiye saw a decline of 6.8 percentage points compared to 2022. The United Kingdom ranked second with a market share of 40.8%, including Studio-backed incoming productions like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”. France followed, holding a national market share of 40.0%, while Albania’s market share stood at 31.2%.

    In additional to Albania (+13.4pp) and the United Kingdom (+11.2pp), other significant market share increases were observed in Ukraine (14.7%, up by 8.3pp), Iceland (14.3%, up by 9.2pp), and Italy (25.9%, up by 4.7pp). Notable local box office hits that helped achieving the positive results include the animation feature “Mavka”. “Lisova pisnya” in Ukraine, which sold over 1.2 million tickets, becoming the country’s most successful national release of all time. Similarly, the Icelandic “Villibráð”, a remake of the Italian 2016’s “Perfect Strangers”, became the most successful national title in 17 years, with over 56,000 admissions. Finally, the Italian production “C’è ancora domani” dominated the national box office in 2023, topping the year-end chart with close to 4.9 million tickets sold.

    Film production in Europe remained stable, in line with 2022 and pre-pandemic levels
    European feature film production continued its upward trend for the third consecutive year, resulting in 2347 titles in 2023, marking the second-highest figure after the peak reached in 2019 and an increase of 12 titles compared to 2022. Within this total, fiction films reached a new peak of 1460 productions, aligning closely with the production levels seen in 2022 (1456 titles) and 2019 (1445 titles). Documentary productions also saw a slight uptick, totalling 887 titles and accounting for 37.8% of the total output.

    Italy once again topped the charts in terms of production volume in 2023, achieving a new record of 354 feature films. Spain and France followed, securing the second and third positions with 306 and 236 titles, respectively.

    Although different methodologies prevent a precise assessment and comparison between countries, available figures suggest that only four countries still have a production volume below 30% compared to pre-pandemic times. Romania, with 32 titles in 2023, experienced a decrease of 30.4% compared to the 2017-2019 averages. Similarly, Belgium and Slovenia released 29 and 12 national titles, reflecting a decline of 34.1% and 35.7%, respectively. Lastly, Bosnia and Herzegovina contributed just 4 titles, marking a decrease of 40.0%.

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