Euros flock to pix

Admissions up despite lack of blockbusters

ROME — Despite a generally disappointing year for local productions and a shortage of monster Hollywood hits, cinema admissions in 2000 continued to climb in all but a handful of Western European territories, with overall growth exceeding the outstanding results of 1998.

Tickets sold last year in Western Europe totaled 866.8 million, representing a 3.8% increase over 1999 and a 2.8% hike from 1998, the year “Titanic” propelled record numbers of moviegoers into theaters.

Figures were published by Media Salles this week in the 10th edition of the Milan-based exhibition authority’s European Cinema Yearbook.

Denmark and Italy were the only Western markets that failed to register an uptick.

While local box office authorities maintain that Italian moviegoing has regained momentum in 2001, with an 11% increase to date on the previous year, Media Salles’ tally shows a 1% drop in 2000. Danish admissions suffered their second consecutive drop, down 2.1%.

Largest increase posted in Western Europe was in Ireland, where attendance rose by 20.1%, making the territory the highest per capita in terms of moviegoing.

Also registering strong growth was the Netherlands, which upped admissions by almost 3 million tickets, or 15.7%. This marks a continuing upward trend for the territory after 1999, when the 20 million threshold was crossed. Austria and Belgium also posted robust results for the year, upping ticket sales by 8.5% and 7.7%, respectively.

Markets growing

With the exception of Italy, all of the major Western European markets counting over 100 million admissions apiece continued to expand. France registered the largest increase at 12 million admissions, climbing by 8.1% over 1999; Spanish moviegoing swelled by 3.1%; ticket sales in the U.K. grew by 2.5%; and Germany increased admissions by 2.4%.

The situation was less upbeat for Central and Eastern European markets and for the Mediterranean rim, which clocked a collective decline of 3.5%.While gains were made in Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, losses of 10% or more were sustained in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland.

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