Hollywood Drives Europe to All-Time $8.2 Billion Box Office High

2015 European Union gross box office 16% up on 2014, per European Audiovisual Observatory report

Hollywood Drives Europe to All Time $8.2 billion 2015 Box Office High
Courtesy of Disney

Propelled by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Minions,” “Spectre” and “Jurassic World,” the European Union’s box office hit an all-time high of €7.3 billion ($8.2 billion) in 2015, a robust 16% up on 2014, per an advance of a Cannes Film Market report, using European Audiovisual Observatory data, Focus 2016: World Film Market Trends.

At 976 million, ticket sales climbed 7.4% vs. 2014, repping the second highest level in the E.U. in the last 10 years, only bested by 2009, the year of “Avatar.”

In what the report’s advance calls “the most homogenous growth trend observed across territories in past ten years,” all 28 member states without exception of the European Union registered at uptick in gross box office. Increases were sometimes dramatic: Box office shot up by 30% and more than €400 million ($448 million) vs. 2014 in the U.K. and Ireland and by 19% and €187 million ($210 million) in Germany, here to an all-time national record of €1.167 billion ($1.3 billion).

2015 was the year this decade when Hollywood unequivocally reigned in Europe. 18 of the top 20 highest–grossing movies in the E.U. last year were made by U.S. studios. U.S. E.U. market share was 64%, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Minions,” “Spectre” and “Jurassic World” all punching more than 30 million in ticket sales, something not one single title achieved in 2014 or 2013, the EAO study noted.

Faced with such boffo competition, European market share in the E.U. inevitably dropped from 2014’s 33.5%, the best level on record, to an estimated 26.1%, (excluding titles with incoming Hollywood studio investment such as “Spectre”)

with only the Luc Besson-produced action thriller “Taken 3” (8.9 million admissions) with Liam Neeson, and Constantin Films “F…You Gohte 2” (8.6 million) hitting the E.U. top 20. Taking in such U.K. studio-backed titles as “Spectre” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” European market share came in at 33.4%, just down from 2014’s 33.9%, a poor year for the release of big Hollywood shoots in London.

The lowest in five years, though just by a tad, European films’ market share in the E.U. is still high enough to justify Hollywood studio and now indie investment – think Lionsgate’s just-announced Globalgate Ent. – in local production.

E.U. production volumes continued to climb, to 1,643 movies. Stalling for much of the decade, European international co-productions powered up in 2015 to account for 24% of all films produced. Whether that is a sign of vitality or producers needing to turn to partners to make movies is another question.

An annual report which has grown into a major industry reference, this year’s Cannes Film Market World Film Market Trends will be published in its entirety on May 12 at the Cannes Festival