Ticket sales fall 1.3% to 919 million

Cinema admissions in the European Union fell 1.3% last year to 919 million, with the market share of U.S. movies dropping to 62.7%, the second-lowest figure in the past five years.

The latest figures from the European Audiovisual Observatory also show that production of films across the 27 EU states nudged upward, with 921 pics made in 2007, 10 more than the previous year.

In the major markets, the biggest growth in ticket sales occurred in Italy, up 13%, and the U.K., up 3.7%. But Spain fell by 3.9%, France dropped by 5.9% and Germany was down by 8.2%.

The general decline across Western Europe, with the exception of Italy and the U.K., was largely offset by an upswell in the most recent EU member states of Eastern Europe.

Attendance surged 11.4% in the Czech Republic, driven by strong local films, and Lithuania spiked by 34%.

A similar mixed pattern was reported beyond the borders of the EU, with Russian admissions up 16%, but steep falls in Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Market share for Euro pics is continuing upward, reaching 28.8% in 2007, firmly above the average 25% achieved from 2003 to 2005.

The 62.7% share for U.S. films was down slightly from 63.5% in 2006, although that was counter-balanced by a rise in European movies co-produced with the U.S., which took a 6.3% share vs. 5.2% the year before.

Nonetheless, that combined figure of almost 70% for U.S. and U.S./EU films in the past two years is significantly below the average of 73% achieved from 2003 to 2005.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” a U.S./EU hybrid, was the box office champ across the continent in 2007, with 38.4 million tickets sold.

“La Vie en rose” was the most successful Euro film without any U.S. finance, followed by “Taxi 4.”

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