Study expects 4-yr Euro exhib’n boom

Dodona predicts pic biz to jump to $1.09 bil by 2002

LONDON — European cinema admissions will rise to 1.09 billion by 2002, compared with 830 million in 1987, according to a new report from exhibition analyst Dodona Research.

That forecast is based on the prediction that the same period will see 4,000 new screens added to the current European total of 25,039. The report, “Cinemagoing Europe,” covers the 18 countries of Western Europe, plus the three most important markets in Eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Brits take screen lead

Dodona predicts that the biggest rise in screens by 2002 will come in the U.K., with a 34% increase, followed by Poland (33%). Spain, Greece and Portugal are all forecast to grow by 25%, but Sweden, Italy and the Czech Republic are expected to see little net gain.

In terms of admissions, the fastest-growing market will be Poland, predicted to rise 83% to over 40 million ticket sales by 2002. Greece follows with a forecast rise of 50%.

The three biggest Euro markets, France, Germany and the U.K., are expected to reach 185 million admissions apiece over the next five years. This means that their combined share of the Euro markets will remain steady at just over 50%.

But the report strikes two cautionary notes. Author Karsten-Peter Grummit warns that exhibitors must be careful not to pursue market share at the expense of the long-term financial viability. “There is no doubt that at present the industry is regarded very favorably by the financial sector,” he said. “But a few ill-conceived projects could take the shine off that reputation.”

Local factor

He also suggested that exhibitors are in danger of underestimating the importance of local movies in driving the increase in Euro admissions.

“It is time to stop bemoaning the fact that a lot of Europe’s made-for-TV movies do not make it into cinemas, and acknowledge that we have a lot of filmmakers who, despite working under very difficult conditions, are actually very successful and potentially could be much more so,” Grummit said.

“Certainly, without these high-grossing pictures, exhibitors’ profit and loss accounts would look a lot weaker.”