Euro 2003 sales up for MPA members

Germany overtakes U.K. as most lucrative for H'w'd

SYDNEY — Spain was the fastest-growing theatrical market in Europe for the U.S. majors last year, while France posted the region’s biggest jump in homevideo revenues.

Signaling a recovery in Germany after the Kirch Group’s collapse, that territory overtook the U.K. to rank as Hollywood’s most lucrative for sales of films and series to free-to-air broadcasters.

These trends emerge from a detailed analysis of the Motion Picture Assn.’s all-media report for 2003.

Circulated among member companies last month, it revealed the studios reaped $16.6 billion from all media streams abroad, a 13% gain, while their U.S. haul also rose by 13% to $24.5 billion (Daily Variety, April 26).

In all-media terms, the MPA companies’ combined revenues reached $10.4 billion in Europe (up 16%) and $3.5 billion in the Asia-Pacific region (up 11%). Revs from economically troubled Latin America dropped 6% to $974 million; the Middle East/Africa was virtually unchanged at $348 million.

Spain posted a 27% leap in the majors’ film rentals, which means that country’s billings have rocketed by 64% since 2001. Australia’s 40% upswing last year was the most dramatic among the top 10 markets.

The majors’ theatrical revs shot up by 16% to $1.9 billion in Europe and improved by 12% to $915 million in Asia-Pacific, helped by the stronger yen and Oz dollar. (Billings from piracy-plagued Taiwan fell by 19% to $47 million, however.) Latin America remained flat at $319 million.

Studios’ homevid sales in Europe hit $4.9 billion, a five-year high, beating 2002 by 26%. Nearly 75% of that, $3.6 billion, was generated by DVDs.

Video revenues spiked by 19% in the U.K. to $1.7 billion and by 36% in France to $876 million. Together those two account for a whopping 53% of the Euro vid market. Germany rose 26% to $696 million, Spain gained 33% to $406 million and Italy was up 18% to $298 million. Japan saw an 8% uptick to $1.05 billion, and Australia surged by 39% to $413 million as the Asia-Pacific region notched a record $1.7 billion, up 15%.

After three consecutive years of growth, Latin America’s vid revs shrank by 7% to $277 million as a 42% spurt in the DVD biz failed to offset falls in VHS rental and sell-through.

Sales of feature films, series and telepics to terrestrial broadcasters in Europe inched up 4% to $2.4 billion. But Germany experienced an eye-popping 41% hike to $563 million, while the U.K. shed 7% to $476 million. Spain retreated by 14% to $296 million, Italy added 13% to $296 million and France dropped 10% to $246 million.

Studios’ pay TV and pay-per-view receipts tallied $1.1 billion from Europe (up just 2%, but a 35% increase over 1999), $364 million in the Asia-Pacific (4% ahead) and $132 million in Latin America (down 12%).

Mirroring the trends in the terrestrial sector, pay TV sales to Germany climbed 53% to $118 million, while the U.K. abated by 9% to $468 million.