The European Union last year experienced its highest cinema attendance in a decade, according to a report published by the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Theater admissions in the EU’s 15 member nations totaled 706 million last year, up 7.3% over 1995, according to the EAO’s recently published “Statistical Yearbook, Film, Television, Video and New Media.”
The so-called “Blue Book,” which compiles data from 33 European countries, also indicated a recovery in cinema attendance in some Central and Eastern European territories.
France led the European territories in attendance with an estimated 136 million admissions, followed by Germany with roughly 133 million and Great Britain with about 124 million.
The report concludes that the increase in attendance was bolstered by the recent multiplex explosion in a number of territories including the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Belgium and Germany.
The number of screens belonging to complexes with five or more auditoriums in Western Europe is expected to reach 3,862 in 1997, up 15.8% from the 1996 figure of 3,335, the report said.
European film production also saw an increase last year: According to the Blue Book, 520 films lensed in 1996, up from 440 in 1995. The figure represents the busiest production year since 1993, when 530 features were shot.
The strongest production gains were in Spain and the U.K., although recoveries in France and Italy also were significant.
Meanwhile, a two-year slump in Central and Eastern Europe production appears to have bottomed out, with filming increasing in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland.
“The production crisis is still evident, however, in Russia,” the report said, “and even more so in Romania, where not a single feature-length film was produced in 1996.”