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Local biz key to Euro exhibs

Analysis states domestic pix market less well o'seas

AMSTERDAM — A spotty record of success in European exhibition last year is linked to the relative performance of indigenously produced movies in individual markets.

That’s the finding of European cinema booster Media Salles, which shared its analysis of 2002 stats at Cinema Expo here Monday.

Opening seminar detailed a recent trend showing the importance of domestically produced films to European exhibition. Last year, the Italian-funded org said films produced locally did well in home territories but traveled to neighboring markets less well.

By ’02, that mixed record was limited even further, as indigenously produced pics garnered less market share at home than they had a year earlier in France, Norway and Spain.

Media Salles secretary general Elisabetta Brunella said it was no coincidence that overall theater admissions also slid in those territories last year.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands posted a year-over-year gain in admissions while market share for domestic product also rose, Brunella noted. In the U.K., where four of the top 20 films were British co-prods, admissions rose 13% to almost 20 million last year.

“The success of domestic films is very important to total success being realized,” said Joachim Wolff, chairman of the Netherlands’ NFC Research Foundation, which collaborated in the Media Salles study.

Overall, European admissions rose less than 1% to 931 million last year.

The Media Salles sesh also featured presentations by reps from Denmark, Norway and Switzerland on Internet-based promotion and other exhibition marketing.

Michael Chalmer of Denmark’s Nordisk Film Biografer said a Web-based loyalty program’s online info and patron perks helped stoke the market’s 8% admissions gain last year.

Managing director Kjell Orseth detailed Norway’s FilmWeb program, a joint offering of local distribs and exhibs that offers theater info, film facts and gossip, as well as advance ticket sales. Internet use is high in Norway, where underscreening makes advance-purchase ticketing particularly popular, Orseth noted.

Up to 20% of ticket sales at the largest cinemas are Internet-based, he said.

Brian Jones, managing director of Switzerland’s EuroPlex chain, said his circuit sells customer loyalty cards providing discounts on tickets, but not concessions.

A recent version of the card embossed with images from a “Harry Potter” movie was particularly popular, Jones said.

“They sold like hotcakes and are a collector’s item in the region,” he said.

Cinema Expo continues through Thursday.

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