Euro auds flock to continental product

Local auds viewing homegrown pix, attendance up 3.9 mil

BRUSSELS — Europe’s audiences are turning to European product in ever larger numbers.

According to figures just released for Europa Cinemas, the chain of 755 screens in 183 European cities across 17 countries, there was a record rise in audiences from 15.5 million in 1998 to 19.8 million in 1999.

The most notable increase in attendance was recorded by non-national European movies showing in other European territories. The audience for these films rose from 8.8 million to 12.7 million from 1998 to 1999.

The most successful pics away from their home territory were Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful,” Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother” and Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Celebration.”

The European Commission has hailed the figures as illustrating the success of its Media II program, which provides financial support to Europa and to other cinema chains that showcase European films, and in particular non-domestic European pics. Of all films screened by Europa, some 64% were European productions — up from 58% in 1998.

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