For the first time in four years, cumulative gross box office (GBO) in the EU Member States did not pass the €7 billion benchmark in 2018. Based on provisional data, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that cumulative GBO takings in the EU fell by 3.3 per cent in 2018 to a total of €6.80 billion: €233.3 million less than in 2017. Not adjusted for inflation, this represents the lowest result since 2014; however, it remains the fourth highest level in the last decade.
With the pan-European average ticket price stable at €7.1, the downturn in revenues reflects a drop in the number of tickets sold, as EU cinema attendance fell by 2.9 per cent to 956 million tickets sold, 28.7 million less than in 2017. As in previous years GBO revenues evolved unevenly across the EU, increasing in 12 and decreasing in 11 EU territories, while remaining relatively stable in 3 of the 26 EU markets for which provisional data were available. The decrease in box office receipts was primarily driven by a sizeable dip registered in Germany (-€156.8 million, -14.8 per cent).
Among the other four major EU markets, GBO also declined in Italy (-€30.8 million, -5.0 per cent) and France while remaining comparatively stable in Spain (-€5.6 million, -0.9 per cent) and the United Kingdom (+£3.9 million, +0.3 per cent). Conversely, GBO grew in several Central and Eastern European markets, with an upturn in Czech Republic (+13.2 per cent), Lithuania (+10 per cent), SIovenia (+10 per cent), Croatia (+8 per cent), Hungary (+6.3 per cent), and Poland (+5 per cent).
Outside the EU, Russian GBO dropped by 4.7 per cent, to RUB 50.9 billion, which still represents the second highest box office result recorded in recent years. For the second year in a row Russia turned out to be the largest European market in terms of admissions, just ahead of France. In Turkey, GBO revenues rose by 3 per cent to TRY 896.9, marking a new record high in spite of a slight decline in cinema attendance (-1.1 per cent), due to an increase in the average ticket price.
Once again, in 2018 US studio titles took the EU box office charts by storm, accounting for 18 out of the top 20 titles. Superhero blockbuster Avengers: Infinity Wars was the box office winner in 2018, the only title to generate more than 30 million admissions (31.0 million), followed by family animation feature Incredibles 2 (27.9 million). Other successful titles include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (22.1 million), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (19.9 million), Black Panther (18.9 million) and Fifty Shades Freed (17.6 million). In line with previous years, 2018 saw a high prevalence of film franchises, with as many as 17 titles out of the top 20 (and 9 titles out of the top 10) being sequels, prequels, spin-off or reboots. In turn, only four films in the top 20 were family animation features, compared to six in 2017 and eight in 2016.
GB productions Bohemian Rhapsody and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald were the only two non US films to feature among the top 20 titles, generating 26.4 and 20.2 million admissions respectively. Leaving aside films produced with incoming US studio investment, Johnny English Strikes Again was the top European title for the year with 7.1 million admissions, followed by The Darkest Hour (6.6 million).