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Euro cinema set to ride out storm

Digital upgrade to become more expensive

MADRID — Recession notwithstanding, cinema will continue to be the primary place to watch movies next year — as long as the movie is good, media analyst firm Screen Digest forecast Wednesday.

“Nothing is recession proof, but cinema is relatively recession resistant,” said David Hancock, Screen Digest head of cinema, commenting on a set of predictions for the biz next year.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests audiences may cut down on travel options or concessions expenditure, rather than eliminating the cinema ticket altogether, he added.

This year admissions in France will grow 4% and by 1% in the U.K. But admissions will drop 1.5% in Germany, 3% in Italy, after an excellent 2007, and 3% or more in Spain, Hancock said.

The forecasts in Screen Digest’s report, “Hard Times 2009,” range across key media markets:

* Thanks to the credit crunch, it will be harder and more expensive to tap the about $8 billion needed for digital upgrade of 110,000 modern screens worldwide.

* In Euro pay TV, Britain’s BSkyB will maintain customer growth and subscriber payments. But Spanish pay TV is slowing. France, Germany and Italy will also begin to slow soon.

* Hard times will bulwark value options, such as DVD. This year, DVD consumer spending will be Euros 10.2 billion ($14.3 billion), down on 2005’s peak of $16 billion.

* Traditional console gamers are relatively recession resilient. New, non-enthusiast gamers, most noticeably Nintendo DS and Wii players, may, however, drop out.

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