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European Cinema Admissions Up but Box Office Slips

Variety logo Variety 6/13/2017 Stewart Clarke
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European cinema admissions were up 2.8% last year but the region’s box office slipped, hitting €8.4 billion ($9.42 billion), about a quarter of the global total.

There were 1.28 billion European admissions in 2016 from 36 European territories, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) said in a study released Tuesday.

“That strong performance alone underlines our belief that cinemas should remain at the center of efforts by governments and industry leaders across Europe to equip the European film sector for future business and audience growth,” said Phil Clapp, CEO of the U.K. Cinema Assn. and president of UNIC.

The organization said that the 4.5% decrease in box-office receipts was caused by currency devaluations in some territories.

It added that the biggest titles in 2016 included several local films as well as a roster of global hits such as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Zootopia,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” and “Ice Age: Collision Course.”

The U.K. box office increased by 0.5% in 2016, beating the record set in 2015. But admissions were down 2.1%, which UNIC attributed to the success of “Spectre” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015.

Other country highlights included admissions in France increasing 3.8% to 213 million, the second-best performance in 50 years; Spain passing the 100-million admissions mark; and Poland recording its best-ever year as admissions topped 50 million. Overall admissions edged up, with the regional average at 1.6 cinema visits per person.

Box office and admissions decreased sharply in Germany, despite such local hits as Oscar-nominated “Toni Erdmann.” German box office of €1 billion was down 12.4% year on year, and admissions fell 13% to 121.1 million.

UNIC was bullish on the prospects for 2017. “The continuing existence of a tier of highly successful independent and local cinemas in many territories is complemented by dynamic local film production, ensuring the resilience of the European cinema ecosystem,” it said, adding: “The ongoing consolidation within the industry will continue, driving further growth and efficiencies across UNIC territories.”

Separately, a study also released Tuesday showed that U.S. movies dominate the lineups of video-on-demand services in the European Union’s 28 countries, accounting for 61% of all titles. The Strasbourg-based Observatory examined the catalogs of 68 VOD services in the E.U. and found that domestic films made up 23% of those available. International films and those from elsewhere in Europe, outside of the E.U., accounted for the remainder.

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