960 million tix sold in 2011

ROME — Film admissions across the European Union dipped slightly to 960 million tickets sold in 2011, earning an estimated $8 billion, thanks mostly to a memorable Gallic year and more muscular performances by local films in many territories.

Figures were released by the European Audiovisual Observatory during the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday.

They show a marginal 2011 drop in Euro ticket sales, down 0.4% from 964 million in 2010. A further decline was averted largely thanks to Gaul where local fare and 3D pics drove cinemagoing growth up 4.2% to 215.6 million admissions — the biggest growth since 1966. Gaumont’s “Untouchable” sold 15.7 million tickets domestically.

Meanwhile, attendance increased 2.4% in Germany and 1.4% in the U.K. but dropped significantly in Italy, down 7.9%, and Spain, down 7.1%.

Outside the EU, Russia’s rapid growth of past years ground to a halt with admissions stable at 165 million, confirming Russia’s status as Europe’s third-largest market.

The major Euro film trend in 2011 was the increase in local market share, which grew in 14 out of 22 EU member states. Eight countries nabbed their best results for homegrown pics in the past five years.

Aside from Gaul, where local pics took 42% of admissions, national films performed particularly well in Italy (38%), the U.K. (36%), Poland (30%), the Czech Republic (29%), Denmark (28%), Norway (25%) and the Netherlands (22%).

Outside the EU, Turkey remained the leading Euro country in terms of national market share, where local films took 50.2% of admissions in 2011.

Releases of 3D titles rose significantly in 2011, especially in France, “but the format seems to be maturing,” noted the report, citing key markets like the U.K., where the 3D share dropped from 24% to 20% of box office grosses.

Data for four other countries, including France, show 3D market share ranging from 20% to 25% of total admissions.

The conversion to digital continues swiftly with 52% of European screens migrating by the end of 2011, according to a separate report from the Observatory and MEDIA Salles.

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