H’w’d gains o’seas market share

Euro pix tix sales slump

LONDON — Cinemagoing in Europe rose last year to its highest level since 1983, but the market share for European movies slumped sharply on both sides of the Atlantic.

Euro admissions gained 4.4% to 844 million, topping even the banner year of “Titanic” in 1998, according to figures published by the European Audiovisual Observatory.

But Euro pics sold just 22.5% of all tickets, down from 29.2% in 1999. American movies increased their market share by more than 4% to 73.7%.

In the United States, where overall attendence declined by 3% in 2000, European movies took just 3.9% of the market with 51 million admissions, down from 6.2% in 1999.

Ticket sales grew in almost all European countries — apart from a small decline in Denmark — with Ireland (19.5%) and Holland (16.1%) registering the strongest growth.

But the only major territory where national movies gained ground was the U.K., where Brit pics increased their share from 17.8% to 21%.

France experienced its worst year for Gallic pics since 1994, with local movies taking just 28.9% in 2000 against 32.4% in 1999.

Yet that was still the highest share for local films of any European country. In Italy, national movies dropped to 16.5% from 21.3%; in Germany, local pics fell to 12.5% from 14%; and Spain dropped to 10.1% from 13.8%.

Outside their national markets, Euro movies performed even more poorly, with admissions dropping from 84 million in 1999 to just 40 million in 2000.

Among Euro movies, only the Brit pics “Chicken Run” (12.1 million admissions) and “Billy Elliot” (5 million) achieved true continent-wide success.

The top three films across the continent were “Gladiator” (24.6 million), “Toy Story 2” (23.8 million) and “American Beauty” (21.4 million).

But surprisingly, the observatory notes that admissions are becoming less concentrated around a few blockbuster titles.

The percentage of ticket sales accounted for by the top 20 movies has fallen in most major territories for the past two years, since concentration peaked with “Titanic” in 1998.

The U.K. remains the most blockbuster-oriented country, with the top 20 pics taking 46.9% of admission in 2000. The figure was 42.6% in France, 40.3% in Italy, 37.6% in Germany and 33% in Spain. That compares with 36.4% in the United States.

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