Based on provisional data the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that cumulative GBO in the 28 EU Member States rocketed to around €7.3 billion. This is 16 per cent higher than the previous year and represents – not adjusted for inflation – the highest level on record.
GBO growth was driven both by an increase in admissions as well as rising ticket prices: Admissions increased by 7.4 per cent to 976 million tickets sold. This is 67.5 million more than in 2014 and represents the second highest level registered in the EU in the past ten years. Only in 2009 did cinemas in the EU sell more tickets boosted by Avatar and the novelty factor of 3D.
The estimated pan-European average ticket price – measured in euros – increased from €7.00 to around €7.50. It is remarkable to note that in 2015 GBO – measured in local currencies – increased in all 26 EU markets for which provisional data are available. This represents the most homogenous growth trend across territories observed in at least the past ten years. The growth in cumulative EU gross box office was particularly boosted by the strong year-on-year performances in the UK and Ireland which registered – also thanks to an appreciation of the British Pound against the Euro – an increase of almost €400 million (+30 per cent) as well as Germany (+€187 million, +19 per cent).
Outside the EU, the Russian Federation confirmed its position as the second largest European market in terms of admissions with 174 million tickets sold and a GBO of RUB 44.1 billion, a 1.9 per cent increase on 2014. As in Russia box office growth in Turkey somewhat levelled out, with admissions falling slightly by 1.5 per cent to 60.5 million and GBO increasing to TRY 681 million (+4 per cent), the highest level in the past few decades.
Box office growth driven by US studio titles
In contrast to 2014, admissions growth was driven primarily by the strong performances of a number of US studio titles which accounted for 18 out of the top 20 performing films in the EU in 2015. The charts were topped by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (39.8 million admissions), Minions (39.5 million), Spectre (37.9 million) and Jurassic World (30.4 million). It is interesting to note that all of these four top films sold more than 30 million tickets in the EU in 2015 while not a single film managed to reach this benchmark in 2013 or 2014. As in previous years box office was dominated by sequels / prequels or spin-offs which accounted for nine out of the top 10 titles. On a cumulative basis, US films took an estimated market share of 64 per cent, slightly up on 2014’s 63.2 per cent. An even bigger boost to box office growth however came from the renewed strength of UK incoming investment films such as Spectre or Kingsman: The Secret Service as the market share of European films produced in Europe with incoming US investment (EUR inc) rose from 0.4 per cent to 7.3 per cent.
Admissions for European films on the other hand declined causing European market share in the EU to drop from its exceptional 2014 record level of 33.5 per cent to an estimated 26.1 per cent as only two European films made it into the top 20, French action thriller Taken 3 (8.9 million admissions) and German comedy Fack ju Göhte 2 (8.6 million). Nevertheless, European films continued to perform well on several national markets – often thanks to the success of a couple of local blockbusters – including France (35.2 per cent), Finland (29.9 per cent), Denmark (29.8 per cent) or Germany (27.5 per cent). Boosted by the success of UK qualifying films such as Star Wars or Spectre, UK films captured a record market share of 44.5 per cent making the UK the EU market with the highest national market share in 2015. UK independent films as defined by the BFI (i.e. excluding films with US studio backing) accounted for 10.6 per cent.
Market share for European films at five year’s low
In contrast to 2014, admissions growth was driven primarily by the strong performances of a number of US studio titles. On a cumulative basis, admissions to US films increased by around 50 million leading to an estimated market share of 64 per cent, while the biggest box office boost came from the renewed strength of UK films produced with incoming US investment (GB inc) whose market share rose from 0.4 per cent to 7.3 per cent. Admissions for European films on the other hand, declined causing European market share in the EU to drop from its exceptional 2014 record level of 33.5 per cent to an estimated 26.1 per cent, the lowest level in the past five years.
EU film production volume continues to grow
After having come to a temporary halt in 2014 EU production levels continued their growth trend of recent years, as the estimated number of European feature film productions increased from 1 593 to 1 643 theatrical films. This figure breaks down into an estimated 1 127 fiction films (69 per cent) and 516 feature documentaries (31 per cent). The increase in production activity was primarily linked to an increasing number of co-productions which accounted for 24 per cent of total production volume in 2015.
Digital conversion rate in the EU remains at 92 per cent
According to figures provided by MEDIA Salles the digitisation process in the EU has been more or less completed in the EU. By the end of 2015 a total of 19 EU Member States had converted 90 per cent or more of their screen base. Only three Member States registered digital screen penetration rates below 70 per cent: Estonia (69 per cent), Lithuania (61 per cent) and the Czech Republic (55 per cent). There were a total of 29 705 digital screens by the end of 2015, representing 92 per cent of the EU’s total screen base. This is the same ratio already achieved in 2014.