The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the trade association representing cinema operators and their national associations across 39 European territories, has today published its Annual Report on key cinema trends in the region in 2022/23.
The report – available online here – takes a deep dive into the recent trends and developments in the European cinema industry, renowned for its diversity, innovation and dynamism.
After two disrupted years, 2022 marked a step-change in the recovery of the European cinema industry, sending a clear signal of the desire of audiences to return to the Big Screen when presented with a strong and diverse film offer and allowing cinemas to re-affirm their cultural and social significance within local communities.
European cinema admissions soared by an estimated 36.2 per cent in 2022, with nearly 809 million visits across the region. Box office reached a remarkable €5.7 billion, a staggering increase of 53.8 per cent on the previous year. At EU level – including the UK – over 655 million tickets were sold in cinemas, worth an estimated €5.0 billion at the box office – increases of 62.7 per cent and 68.5 per cent respectively. These impressive numbers were achieved despite some cinemas facing restrictions during the initial months of the year, along with rising energy costs, the impact of the Russia/Ukraine conflict, and a still limited film supply.
Notably, box office results for Romania (+142 per cent compared with 2021), Lithuania (+133.5 per cent), Slovenia (+182.3 per cent), Germany (+93.5 per cent) and Austria (+96 per cent), exemplify the strength of the sector’s recovery in the past year.
Local European releases have been crucial, with countries such as France (41.1 per cent), the Czech Republic (33.5 per cent), Turkey (46 per cent), Germany (27 per cent) and Denmark (26 per cent) leading the way in terms of national films’ market share.
Between 2022 and the first half of 2023, several European and International titles managed to break box office records, with Avatar: The Way of Water becoming the highest grossing film of all time in the EMEA region with almost $800 million at the box office, while Triangle of Sadness, 2022 Cannes Palme D’Or winner, which was released in over 40 international markets, globally recording revenues of over $25 million.
Gower Street Analytics have recently increased their forecast for the global box office for 2023 to $32 billion, a 10 per cent improvement from the initial estimate of $29 billion announced back in December 2022.
Globally, the first quarter of 2023 was 27 per cent ahead of Q1 2022 and double the first quarter of 2021. In the EMEA region it marked the most successful quarter since the start of the pandemic, with a remarkable 32 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. In Q1 2023 the Netherlands was above the pre-pandemic average box office by 3.3 per cent, Austria was up by approximately 2 per cent and Norway was back to the same box office results as 2019. And this positive trend continued in May with the international market (excluding China) reaching the same box office level as the comparable month in 2017-2019. Spain and Italy for example achieved box office results close to 2019.
These phenomenal achievements featured in the UNIC report – and the predictions for 2023 – provide ample demonstration of the dynamism of the cinema sector, fuelled by the insatiable public appetite for the cinema-going experience.
Numerous audience behaviour surveys across Europe reveal that audiences, especially the younger age groups, are steadily returning to cinemas and confirm cinema-going as the preferred and most affordable out-of-home entertainment choice. The slight increase of 4 per cent in the average ticket price in Europe from 2021 was also driven by the growing popularity of Premium Large Formats, witnessing that the audience is willing to pay more for a premium service or experience.
Welcoming the report, UNIC President Phil Clapp said:
“All of the data set out in the UNIC Annual Report for 2022 confirms what we already knew – that audiences love the Big Screen. It’s no surprise therefore that studios and major distributors have re-affirmed their trust in and commitment to exclusive theatrical releases, recognising cinemas as the prime venues for experiencing the magic of cinema. A rich and varied film slate remains pivotal in attracting both existing and new audiences.
Some challenges remain – such as the need for a more constant flow of diverse films, increased cost of operations to name a few – but cinemas remain the privileged place to experience films from all genres. Policymakers need to continue their efforts in safeguarding and celebrating cinemas, regardless of their size or location.”
Many of the trends examined in the Annual Report will also be discussed during the week at CineEurope, UNIC’s official convention and Europe’s premier gathering of cinema exhibition professionals from the region and beyond.
Notes for editors
The 2023 UNIC Annual Report is available online here.
The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC)
The International Union of Cinemas/Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC) represents the interests of cinema trade associations and cinema operators covering 39 countries in Europe and neighbouring regions.
CineEurope 2023 is taking place 19-22 June at the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona (CCIB) in Barcelona, Spain. CineEurope is the longest running and most successful European convention and trade show for major, regional, and independent cinema professionals. CineEurope will feature exclusive screenings and product presentations of upcoming films, sponsored events, timely and informative seminars, and the CineEurope Trade Show. CineEurope is the Official Convention of the International Union of Cinemas/Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC).
The Film Expo Group
The Film Expo Group is the premier organizer of events in the motion picture industry. The Film Expo Group produces CineEurope, held in Barcelona; ShowEast, held in Miami; and CineAsia, held in Bangkok.
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