GBO in the EU and the UK Grew by 70% in 2022 But Fell Short of Pre-Pandemic Average by 28%

European Audiovisual Observatory - Gross Box Office - 2023
Brussels ( May 11, 2023 ) -
    • Gross box office in the EU and the UK (which we refer to hereafter as Europe 28) grew by 70% in 2022 compared with 2021 – from EUR 3.0 billion to EUR 5.1 billion, down by 28% on pre-pandemic levels.
    • Top Gun: Maverick (US), Avatar: The Way of Water (US) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (US) topped the Europe 28 charts in 2022, selling 34.4 million, 30.6 and 30.2 million tickets throughout the calendar year respectively.
    • European films performed well and market share for European films increased year-on-year from 26.8% to 28.4% in 2022
    • Film production in the EU and the UK continued to grow and reached their second highest level in recent history

While most sanctions 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 US title releases, 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 EU and the UK 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, GBO grew by 70% from EUR 2.99 billion to an estimated EUR 5.07 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.

Outside the EU and the UK, the Turkish theatrical market grew strongly on a year-on-year basis (+188%) but only reached 53% of its pre-pandemic admissions level. Cinema attendance in Norway on the other hand grew by “only” +55% but reached 75% of its average pre-pandemic admissions.

Top Gun, Avatar and the Minions dominated the 2022 box office charts in Europe 28

As was already the case in 2021, US studio titles accounted for all the top 25 titles in the EU and GB in terms of admissions. Three films stood out, generating more than 30 million admissions in 2022: Top Gun: Maverick (US) topped the charts selling 34.5 million tickets in the EU and the UK. It was followed by Avatar: The Way of Water (US) which sold 30.6 million tickets and Minions: The Rise of Gru with 30.2 million admissions.

Ten other films managed to sell between 10 and 20 million tickets. Hence, a total of 13 films therefore sold more than 10 million tickets in the EU and GB in 2022, compared to five films in 2021 and 18 films in 2019. Film franchise titles once more dominated the European box office, with 15 out of the top 20 films being sequels, prequels, spin-offs or reboots, compared to 17 in 2021 and 18 in 2019.

Apart from the EUR inc production Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (“EUR inc” refers to films produced in Europe with incoming investments from US studios), no European film featured among the top 25 titles. The theatrical film version of Downton Abbey: A New Era (GB inc / US) became the second most successful European film selling 4.1 million tickets, ahead of the French comedy sequel Qu’est-ce qu’on a tous fait au bon Dieu? (FR/BE) with 3.8 million tickets and the Northern Ireland drama Belfast (GB) (3.7 million).

European films performed well and increased market share to 28.4%

Admissions growth in 2022 was primarily driven by the return of US blockbusters and a strong performance of European films. US films are estimated to have sold around 421 million tickets in 2022, 173 million more than in 2021, generating about 66% of their average pre-pandemic admissions of 643 million. European films sold an estimated 185 million tickets, 77 million more than in 2021 and about 69% of their pre-pandemic average of 269 million admissions.

The estimated market share of European films therefore increased from 26.8% in 2021 to 28.4% in 2022, which is at the higher end of its normal range. The US market share grew from 61.8% in 2021 to an estimated 64.5%, which is still practically the same as pre-pandemic levels, while European films with incoming investment from US studios (EUR inc), led by Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (GB inc /US), and films from the rest of the world captured 4.3% and 2.2% of admissions, respectively.

Compared to 2021, the market share captured by domestic films increased in 12 of the 25 EU markets for which 2022 data were available, rising above the 2017-2019 average in 16 territories. France registered the highest market share for national productions in the EU (41.1%), ahead of the Czech Republic (37.5%), Denmark (30%), Germany (27%) and Finland (26.9%). Outside of the EU, the market share for national films dropped to 30.1% in the UK (including US studio-backed productions), which compares to 42% in 2021 and an average 43.6% between 2017 and 2019 and represents the lowest level since 2014. The market share of UK studio backed titles plummeted from 36% to 22%, while the share of UK independent titles increased somewhat from its record low of 5.6% in 2021 to 7.8%. Türkiye saw the domestic share rising from a record low of 23.3% in 2021 to 50.8% in 2022, slightly below the levels registered in pre-pandemic years.

Film production in the EU and the UK reached second highest level in 2022

European film production seems to be fully back on its pre-pandemic growth track. An estimated total of 1 960 feature films were produced in the EU and the UK in 2022. This is 194 films more than in 2021 and represents the second highest production level registered after the record high of 2 037 feature film productions in 2019. This growth was primarily driven by an increased production of feature documentaries, which increased by 116 films to a total of 771 feature documentaries, as fiction films increased by “only” 78 films to a total of 1 189 films.

Trends differ between countries also due to different methodologies in counting productions: in those markets where film production is measured as films actually released, 2022 figures almost matched pre-pandemic figures. Whereas in markets where film production is measured e.g. in terms of films starting principal photographs or being certified, the 2022 production activity often exceeded its pre-pandemic levels.

More detailed information on European as well as international theatrical markets can be found in FOCUS 2023 World Film Market Trends prepared by the European Audiovisual Observatory for the Cannes Film Market.

The figures in this press release are taken from the 2023 edition of FOCUS – World Film Market Trends, a report which is prepared each year for the Marché du Film. Journalists may request a PDF press copy from FOCUS is available as a free print copy to all Marché attendees from the Observatory’s stand (H1 in the Riviera/Marina section) It’s also free online for all Marché participants on the online platform. It can be purchased after the Marché from the Council of Europe bookshop.