U.S., China, ‘Lucy,’ France, U.K. Power Europe’s Movies Exports

‘Philomena,’ ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Theory of Everything’ among most-seen films abroad

Driven by U.S. revenues, China, Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and the best result on record books in Europe, European movies grossed €3.092 billion ($3.373 billion) worldwide in 2014, very possibly an all-time high, according to a new report, from the European Audiovisual Observatory Report, “The Theatrical Market For European Films Outside Europe.”

That said, 2010-14 export results, “leaving the exceptionally good 2012 results aside, suggest a modest growth trend with admissions increasing from 61.o million in 2010 to 82 million in 2014,” Martin Kanzler, the report’s author, writes.

Theatrical box office outside Europe, the report’s main focus, was the second highest of the decade to date, at €496 million ($541 million), after a dramatic 2012, which saw €722 million ($788 million) in total take, when “Taken 2” powered European B.O. to €379 million ($413 million) Stateside.

Ramping up energetically – €12 million ($13.1 million) in 2010, €80.2 million ($87.5 million) last year, up from €53 million ($57.8 million) in 2013, China now represents Europe’s second biggest movie export market in terms of gross box office. China overhauling both Australia and South Korea in 2013.

The study underscores European movies’ U.S. paradox. They command a minimal market share – 2% in 2014; but the U.S. still remains by a large head the single biggest export territory in the world for Euro film fare, contributing €197.3 million ($215.2 million) in Euro movies’ theatrical B.O.. In gross box office terms, indeed, the U..S. and Canada account for nearly 45% of total non-European takings.

Australia, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico trail the U.S. and China as key export territories (see table).

Grossing $464.4 million worldwide, $126.7 million in the U.S., and accounting for 38% of export B.O., per the EAO, Luc Besson’s “Lucy” smashed recent records for European exports. Lucy’s tix sales – 31.9 million tickets outside Europe -was the highest of any European film in the last five years, said Kanzler.

Full Top 10 breakdown of most-seen European movies outside Europe:

1.”Lucy”: with Scarlett Johansson, and Besson directing, EuropaCorp’s flagship English-language movie, released by Universal in the U.S. and many major foreign territories. (31.7 million)

2.”Philomena”: Stephen Frears’ Pathe-BBC-BFI production, starring Judi Dench, one of four Oscar noms, and a Weinstein Co. U.S. release. (3.7 million)

3.”Tarzan”: Produced by Germany’s Constantin Film, a motion-capture 3D “Tarzan,” sold by Summit Ent. and helmed by Reinhold Klooss (3.3 million)

4.”The Theory of Everything”: Working Title-produced, directed by James Marsh, a U.S. Focus Features release, handled by UPI over much of international (3.2 million, in just three territories)

5.“A Most Wanted Man”: War on terrorism thriller from Anton Corbijn, sold by FilmNation, produced-financed out of the U.K. by Potboiler Productions (“Our Kind of Traitor”) the U.S. and Germany, a Lionsgate/RoadSide Attractions release. (2.4 million)

6.“Paddington”: Produced by David Heyman (“Harry Potter,” “Gravity”), financed, distributed and sold by Studiocanal, the CGI live-action movie went on to punch the highest gross ever for an family film released by a non-U.S. studio. (2.3 million)

7.“The Quiet Ones”: a Sam Claflin starring horror movie hit from a revived Hammer Films (“The Woman in Black”), sold by Exclusive Media Group. (1.8 million)

8.“The Family”: Luc Besson’s mob family comedy with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.(1.7 million)

9.“Belle”: Mid-brow anti-slavery drama/period romancer from the U.K.’s DJ Films (“The Iron Lady”). (1.5 million)

10. “La belle et la bête,” Pathe-produced, a big fairy tale reboot directed by Christophe Gans (“Silent Hill”), with Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan”) and Lea Seydoux. (1.3 million).

Europe’s Top 10 exports in 2014 mix largely upscale prestige titles, most made out of the U.K., with two EuropaCorp flagships, and a couple of family entertainment plays. All of the titles are in English, save for the French-spoken “La Belle et la bete.” Eight movies in the Top 100 exports were actioners/thrillers, accounting for 52% of admissions; dramas proved the second most popular film type (3o films, 21%), followed by family (17, 16%) and comedy (24, 7%). In Europe, in contrast, comedy reigned supreme in the Top 100 European movies, repping 52 of the top 100 entries and 55% of tickets sold, trailed by family (16, 18%) and actioners/thrillers (8, 14%) and dramas (22, 13%).

France and the U.K. accounted for nine of 2014’s Top Ten European films outside Europe and 78% of total spectators for them. The U.K. and France also rated, after Ireland, as Europe’s top exporters in terms of the share of total national film admissions racked up outside Europe: (see Table 2).

Report is based on 12 major markets outside Europe. It recognizes that theatrical reps only one part of movies’ revenues, 27% in the case of British movies, per the BFI Statistical Yearbook 2014. As sales agents and distributors insist, however, theatrical success is the basis for further impact in DVD (27% of revenues, per the BFI study of British films), TV (38%, from pay, terrestrial, digital), and VOD (5%).

“The Theatrical Market For European Films Outside Europe” underscores the importance of international markets for Euro movies: Of their total 458 million tix sales in and outside Europe in 2014, European movies generated about 60% of tix sales in their respective national markets, 22% (99 million) in the rest of Europe and 18% (82 million) outside Europe.

The report also raises large questions. One is if European films’ theatrical box office outside Europe will increasingly come down to one film. There is no clear trend, Kanzler’s report suggests. Europe’s biggest film export repped 6.1% of tix sales outside Europe in 2010, then 18.9% (2011), 26.8% (2012), 9.6% (2013) and 31.9% with “Lucy” in 2014. Europe’s best 10 movies abroad took admissions shares of 33.5%, 42.4%, 83.7%, 45.6% and 53.1%. Confounding predictions and claims of galloping B.O. title concentration, the percentage of European movies punching five million plus admissions, or any other B.O. bracket down to 1,000-5,000 in tix sales, remained remarkably stable over 2010-14.

Second, the number of European movie theatrical releases in the world, whether first-time bows or reruns, is extraordinarily high: 6,188 in 2014, 589 of which saw theatrical release in at least one country outside Europe. The number of releases, ironically, is one good reason why European films have such trouble securing strong theatrical runs.

Also, there is a dramatic contrast between European movies market share in Europe, 33%, and outside Europe, 3%. That may suggest, inversely, a drop or stagnation of Hollywood movies’ market share in Europe over much of this decade – though 2015 looks like a year when Hollywood makes a comeback, a string of barnstormers driving B.O. results in Europe and beyond, propelling some markets – Germany, Brazil – to best B.O. gross results ever.

TABLE ONE: EUROPE’S TOP MOVIE MARKETS OUTSIDE EUROPE, 2014

And European films market share in the territory:

1.U.S., €197.3 million ($215.2 million), 2%

2.China. €80.2 million ($87.5 million), 2% (est.)

3.Australia, €58.3 million ($63.6 million), 8%

4.South Korea, €46.3 million ($50.5 million), 4%

5.Brazil, €30.3 million ($33.1 million), 4%

6.Mexico, €29.6 million ($32.3 million), 4%

7.Canada, €24.3 million ($26.5 million), 3%

8.New Zealand, €8.9 million ($9.7 million), 10%

9.Colombia, €8.1 million ($8.8 million), 5%

9.Argentina, €8.1 million ($8.8. million), 4%

TABLE TWO: EUROPE’S TOP EXPORTERS

(Ratio of non-European, non-national European, and national admissions, Europe’s top 10 film-exporting countries)

1.Ireland: 43%, 57% (national admissions)

2.U.K.: 37%, 31%, 32%

3.France: 26%, 26%, 49%

4.Finland: 25%, 10%, 65%

5.Denmark: 17%, 38%, 45%

6.Belgium: 15%, 76%, 9%

7.Germany: 13%, 26%, 61%

8.Spain: 12%, 6%, 82%

9.Italy: 5%, 9% and 86%

10.Russia: 3%, 3% and 94%

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