Having failed to pass the €7 billion benchmark for the first time in four years in 2018, cumulative gross box office (GBO) in the EU Member States bounced back, growing by an estimated 6.3 per cent to €7.2 billion, according to 2020 edition of FOCUS – World Film Market Trends from the European Audiovisual Observatory.
That is €430 million more than in 2018 and this figure – not adjusted for inflation – represents the second highest result since 2015. The increase in GBO was primarily driven by underlying growth in cinema attendance, which is estimated to have jumped by 5.3 per cent from 954 million to over one billion tickets sold, as the average ticket price increased by 1 per cent to €7.20.
In contrast to previous years, GBO revenues developed fairly homogeneously across the EU, increasing in 21 and decreasing in only three EU territories, while remaining practically stable in two EU markets for which provisional data were available. Geographically speaking the growth in EU GBO was primarily caused by significant increases in Germany (+€125 million, +13.9 per cent), France (+€110 million, +8.3 per cent), Italy (+ €88 million, +15.3 per cent), the Netherlands (+ €35 million, +11.3 per cent and Spain (+€29 million, +5.0 per cent). Conversely, GBO measured in euros declined somewhat in the UK (-€21 million, -1.4 per cent), Sweden (-€8 million, -4.0 per cent) and Romania (-€1 million, -1.0 per cent).
Outside the EU, Russian GBO jumped by 10.3 per cent to RUB 55.5 billion, the highest box office recorded. For the third 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 9.0 per cent to TRY 977 million, marking a new record high in spite of a strong decline in cinema attendance (-15.6 per cent), due to a strong increase in the average ticket price and high inflation.
The Lion King and Avengers: Endgame led the EU box office charts in 2019
US studio titles performed particularly well in the EU in 2019, accounting for 19 out of the top 20 titles. Disney´s live-action remake of The Lion King topped the charts selling 48.7 million tickets in the 23 EU markets for which title-by-title admissions were available. It was followed by the latest instalment of Marvel´s Avenger franchise Avengers: Endgame with over 41 million admissions in the EU.
In contrast to 2018, where only one title managed to sell more than 30 million tickets, there were therefore two blockbusters which passed the 40 million benchmark in 2019. Other successful titles include Joker (34.6 million), Frozen 2 (31.6 million), Toy Story 4 (22.5 million), Star Wars Episode IX (22.1million) and Aladdin (20.2 million). In line with previous years, 2019 saw a high prevalence of film franchises, with as many as 18 titles out of the top 20 (and 9 titles out of the top 10) being sequels, prequels, spin-off or reboots. Five films featured in the top 20 were family animation features, compared to four in 2018, six in 2017 and eight in 2016.
The French comedy sequel Qu’est-ce qu’on a encore fait au bon Dieu was the only non-US film to feature among the top 20 titles, generating 9.3 million admissions and was the top European title in the EU for the year. It was followed by biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (produced with incoming US studio investment (euros inc) which sold 8 million tickets), Downton Abbey (7.9 million) and biopic Rocketman (6.5 million).
European market share dropped to 25.7 per cent as US share surged
The surge in EU admissions was almost entirely driven by the comparatively-strong performance of US blockbusters as admissions to European films produced in Europe with incoming US investment (euros inc) actually declined. The estimated market share for US films therefore increased from 62.6 per cent to 68.7 per cent, the highest level observed since 2013, while the market share for European films in the EU decreased from 29.2 per cent to 25.7 per cent, the lowest level since 2005. Market share for films produced with incoming US investment (euros inc) decreased from 6.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent while the estimated share for films from other parts of the world increased from 2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
On a national level, local European films performed particularly well in the United Kingdom (47.1 per cent), France (34.8 per cent), Poland (28.2 per cent) and Denmark (27.4 per cent) and the Czech Republic (26.5 per cent). Outside the EU, Turkey was once again the European territory with highest national market share (56.9 per cent).
EU film production volume continued to grow in 2019
EU film production volume continued its longstanding growth trend as the estimated number of theatrical feature films produced in the EU increased from 1,807 to 1,881 films in 2019. EU film production volume broke down into an estimated 1,135 fiction films (60 per cent) and 746 feature documentaries (40 per cent). The increase in production activity continued to be driven by a growing number of international co-productions and feature documentaries.