Ticket price hikes drive growth

LONDON — Box office grosses in Western Europe are set to rise by 17% over the next five years, according to U.K.-based cinema analyst Dodona Research.

Rising ticket prices rather than a spike in admissions are fuelling growth in grosses.

Aggregate box office grosses for the 13 Western European territories included in the report — Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland — totaled $7.8 billion (£3.9 billion) last year and Dodona expects them to rise to $9.4 billion by 2011.

The fastest-growing markets are expected to be Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, while Malta, Germany and Belgium will see steadier increases.

Dodona’s research shows that admissions have actually fallen across the region by almost 10% since 2001 from 742 million in 2001 to 673 million last year. The markets of Germany and Spain have suffered hefty admissions declines of 23% and 17% respectively. German admissions slipped from 178 million in 2001 to 137 million last year; Spanish admissions dipped from 147 million to 122 million.

In terms of the number of cinemas, the Dodona report describes the Western European market as “fundamentally saturated.”

“However, there will be new drivers of growth, including conversion to digital cinema and the expansion of domestic film industries, which will take the industry into the next phase of its evolution,” said report author Karsten Grummitt.

Further consolidation of the exhibition sector is projected: “Financial and economic conditions permitting, we anticipate that there are more deals to be done resulting in an increasingly simpler exhibition sector,” said Grummitt.

UCI is Western Europe’s largest exhibitor with almost 900 screens. French exhib EuroPalaces is next best with 800 screens in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Greater Union and UGC both boast more than 500 screens, while Cinebox is fifth largest with 478 screens. A further 13 companies have more than 100 screens.

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