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EU box office numbers up

the-hobbitBased on provisional data the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that gross box office takings in the 28 EU Member States increased marginally to €6.32 billion in 2014, up €40 million on 2103. This is 0.6 per cent higher than the previous year but still represents the second lowest level in the past five years. As in 2013 GBO growth was proportional to the change in underlying admissions which grew modestly by 0.7 per cent to an estimated 911 million tickets sold, around 6.5 million more than in 2013. This indicates that the pan-European average ticket price – measured in Euros – has remained more or less stable at €6.9 since 2012.

Measured in local currencies GBO increased in a total of 14 and decreased in 13 out of the 27 EU member states for which data are available. The small growth in cumulative EU box office (in EUR) was primarily ensured by strong year-on-year performances in France, Spain (+€15 million. +3.0 per cent) and Poland (+€15 million, +9.7 per cent) as well as the appreciation of the British Pound which led to an increase in the Euro value of UK GBO, despite a 2.3 per cent decrease when measured in GBP. At the other end of the spectrum, the largest declines in GBO – in absolute terms – were registered in Italy (-€46 million, -7.1 per cent) and Germany (-€43 million, -4.2 per cent).

Outside of the EU, the Russian Federation confirmed its position as the second largest European market in terms of admissions with 175 million tickets sold and a GBO of RUB 43.3 billion, a 2.4 per cent increase on 2013. While Russian box office growth seems to have somewhat levelled out, Turkey continued its impressive growth trend of recent years with admissions jumping to 61.4 million, up 22 per cent from 2013 and GBO increasing to TRY 655 million (+30 per cent), the highest level in the past few decades. Both markets however faced sharp declines in their currencies in 2014, so that GBO measured in €actually declined by 14 per cent to €862 million in the case of Russia and by 2.5 per cent to €189 million in the case of Turkey.

As in previous years, sequels and spin-offs featured prominently in the 2014 European Union box office charts. Led by The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (22.7 million admissions), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (20.1 million) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (17.5 million) a total of nine sequels or spin-offs made it into the top 20, five of them into the top 10.

French culture clash comedy Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu (Serial (Bad) Weddings) and Luc Besson’s sci-fi thriller Lucy stood out among European films, selling 17.1 and 15.2 million tickets in the EU respectively. Other exceptionally successful films include the Spanish comedy Ocho apellidos vascos (Spanish Affair), which became the highest grossing Spanish film of all time, and British family comedy Paddington, both of which made it into the list of the 25 top grossing films in 2014.

It is interesting to note that, just as in 2013, the top blockbusters attracted significantly fewer cinema-goers than in the previous years, if one compares them, for example, with the 42.7 million admissions for Skyfall (2012) or 38 million for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 (2011) and 51.9 million for Avatar (2010). Cumulative admissions to European films on the other hand increased and became the main driver behind the overall growth in cinema attendance in the EU.

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