Study finds boost in niche pics

European Union theaters are screening an increasing number of films that are neither local nor Hollywood productions, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO).

Such “third-country” films made up 14.7% of features distributed in at least one EU state in 2002, rising steadily to 21.2% in 2006.

The impact on admissions is more modest. From 2002 to 2006, third-country films accounted for just 2.3% of the 3.6 billion admissions analyzed by the EAO. However, the share in admissions rose from 1.6% in 2002 to 3.3% in 2006.

While Asian features are by far the most numerous third-country films appearing on EU screens, the box office draw is more mixed.

George Miller’s “Happy Feet,” from Australia, topped the ranking by admissions during the period, with 8.7 million tickets sold. Canada also scored highly with pics such as “Silent Hill” and “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.”

The EAO presented its findings Monday in Cannes alongside a European Commission initiative to strengthen cooperation with third-country producers. The EAO found that European co-production helped to get Latin American, African and Canadian films into the EU market.

Co-productions also seem to attract more viewers than purely foreign films.

For example, the average number of admissions in the EU for a purely Canadian film was about 58,000, while Canadian co-productions with an EU country averaged 377,818 admissions. Majority European films with Canadian involvement averaged 211,235.

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