The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the body representing European cinema trade associations and key operators has today released its provisional update on admissions and box office revenues across Europe for 2016.
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 last year. More detailed final data on the performance of each territory will be released in Spring 2017.
European cinema-going in 2016
2016 has been a positive year for cinema operators in most European territories. Total admissions for EU Member States (where data was available) increased by 1.6 per cent compared to 2015, while total admissions for all UNIC territories* increased by 2.6 per cent, totalling more than 1.26 billion visits to the cinema.
While the increase was also the result of a wide range of highly successful local films across Europe, box office was again dominated by strong international titles, including, but not limited to, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, “Zootopia”, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Ice Age: Collision Course”.
Once final box office figures for all UNIC territories are available, total box office revenues will be shared.
Increase in France, Russia and Southern Europe; stable results in UK and Turkey
France saw admissions increase by 3.6 per cent compared to 2015 and achieved its second-best performance for the past 50 years. Similarly, Russia enjoyed very positive results (box office +9.6 per cent / admissions +10.1 per cent), asserting itself as the second biggest UNIC territory with over 190 million admissions.
The Spanish cinema industry reached the symbolic mark of 100 million admissions, bolstered by popular local co-production “A Monster Calls” and despite a continuing high VAT rate on cinema tickets. In Italy, the local films “Quo Vado?” and “Perfetti Sconosciuti” helped the industry reach positive results in 2016 (box office +3.9 per cent / admissions +6.1 per cent). Following a highly successful 2015, Portugal again enjoyed a further increase in results (box office +2.2 per cent / admissions +2.2 per cent).
While the UK box office increased by 0.5 per cent in 2016 – beating a record set in 2015 – admissions slightly decreased by 2.1 per cent. This was primarily due to the unprecedented success of “Spectre” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in the previous year. A similar trend was observed in Turkey (box office +2.2 per cent / admissions -3.0 per cent), where the box office was once again dominated by local productions.
Decrease in Germany; varying fortunes in Scandinavia
The German cinema sector suffered a 12.4 per cent decrease in box office and 13 per cent decrease in admissions in 2016, as primarily local films found it hard to reproduce record-breaking performances of 2015. A similar trend could be observed in Austria (box office -2.4 per cent / admissions -5.2 per cent) and Switzerland (box office -9.4 per cent / admissions -7.2 per cent).
Box office and admissions in Scandinavian countries were bolstered by strong local titles, such as “En man som heter Ove” in Sweden (box office +6.3 per cent / admissions +4.2 per cent) and “Konges nei” in Norway (box office +11.7 per cent / admissions +9.0 per cent). Following record performances in 2015 and despite local productions leading the box office in 2016, Denmark (box office -6.0 per cent / admissions -5.1 per cent) and Finland (box office -0.8 per cent / admissions -1.8 per cent) did not share the same fortune.
Significant growth in Central and Eastern Europe
Reaching over 50 million admissions, the Polish sector recorded its best year ever (box office +17.6 per cent / admissions +16.5 per cent), bolstered by three local films ranked in the box office top five. Similarly, Slovakia (box office +23.5 per cent / admissions +23.8 per cent) and the Czech Republic (box office +20.5 per cent / admissions 20.6 per cent) enjoyed the most significant growth across UNIC territories in 2016. Several other Central and Eastern European countries experienced similarly positive developments in 2016, notably Bulgaria (box office +5.5 per cent / admissions +3.7 per cent), Hungary (box office +13.1 per cent / admissions +12.1 per cent) and Romania (box office +10.2 per cent / admissions +7.5 per cent). Positive results could also be observed in Estonia (box office +13.5 per cent / admissions +6.1 per cent), Latvia (box office +10.7 per cent / admissions +5.5 per cent) and Lithuania (box office +14.9 per cent / admissions +9.8 per cent).
Admissions per capita, European film share, outlook for 2017
Admissions per capita for all UNIC territories (where data was available) came in at 1.6 visits per year, a slight 0.1 point increase from 2015. 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 2016.
The industry looks forward to a busy and exciting release schedule in 2017, one full of promising European as well as international titles.
UNIC is the European trade grouping representing cinema exhibitors and their national trade associations across 36 European territories. More information available on unic-cinemas.org
* Including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey.