HOLLYWOOD — European cinema admissions topped one billion for the second successive year in 2002, 6.5 million up on the previous year, according to a report released on Monday.
The U.K. was the best performing of the larger markets, where admissions were almost 20 million or 12.5% higher.
But disappointing perfs in Germany (down 14 million or 8%) and Spain (down 6 million or 4%), dragged down the total.
Estonia was the fastest growing of the 28 countries covered by Cinemagoing Europe, from analysts Dodona Research.
The keenest cinema-goers were the Icelanders, averaging 5.55 visits each, and the Irish, 4.42 visits, while the Latvians were the only nation that average less than half a visit each.
Despite strong admissions in the last two years, 2002 saw the anticipated drop in new multiplex openings.
After five years in which the European screen count expanded by 1,000 a year, just 635 screens were added in 2002.
On average cinemagoers paid c5.73 ($6.58) per ticket in 2002, 87 cents more than in 1997.
The highest ticket price was in Switzerland, where cinemagoers paid an average $11, while the lowest was in Slovakia, at just $2.15.
More than 20% of the continent’s box office was generated in the U.K., where cinemagoers paid $1.37 billion to see films.
As well as taking $6.4 billion gross at the box office, European cinemas raked in $1.3 billion net of taxes from refreshment sales and on-screen advertising (estimated to be worth $604 million to cinema exhibitors). Exhibitors’ total net revenues amounted to $8billion, 70% more than in 1996.
Film distributors’ revenues amounted to $2.6 billion, or 64% more than in 1996. The average proportion of box office paid as film rental remained constant at 45%. The outperformance in exhibition revenue growth instead came from higher concession revenues and from higher advertising revenues. Rental rates vary from the straight 50% split found in France and the Czech Republic, for example, down to 36% in Slovenia and just 33% in Greece.
The report identifies 53 circuits across Europe operating 50 screens or more, but they account for only 36% of screens.
Despite the dominance of the Hollywood studios in making movies, showing them is still largely a European-owned business: of the top ten circuits three each are headquartered in France and the U.K., two in Germany, one in Belgium and just one, UCI, in the U.S.
According to forecasts in the Dodona report, European box office will be 24% higher by 2007, nearly $1.7 billion more than today.