European cinema admissions hit an estimated 1.27 billion in 2016, the highest level in recent decades, according to early estimates from the European Audiovisual Observatory. E.U. member nations accounted for 994 million ticket sales, up 1.6% on 2015’s 978 million and the highest admissions recorded in the E.U. since 2004.
The Observatory, which gathers information on the audiovisual industry across Europe, announced its initial estimates for European cinema attendance Friday at the 67th Berlin Film Festival.
Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets” was the biggest ticket seller across the E.U. for the year, according to the Observatory, although admissions for individual titles were not supplied in the report. This was followed by the Disney triumvirate of “Finding Dory,” “The Jungle Book” and “Zootopia.” Other top titles included “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Rogue One,” 2015 holdover “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Deadpool” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
The report shows cinema attendance up in 19 of the 24 E.U. markets for which provisional data were supplied during 2016. Among the markets seeing declines was the U.K., which saw ticket sales drop 2.1% to 168.3 million but still remains the second-biggest market for cinema attendance among E.U. states after France. The biggest year-on-year drop was recorded in Germany, where admissions fell by 18.1 million to 121.1 million, a 13% dive compared to 2015.
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France and Poland both saw ticket sales increase by 7.4 million in 2016, a year-on-year rise of 3.6% in France (212.7 million total admissions) and 16.6% in Poland (52.1 million total admissions). Spain saw a 7.5% boost with 103.3 million admissions, and Italy was up 5.4% year-on-year with ticket sales hitting 112.5 million.
There were also record admissions in the Czech and Slovak Republics, with growth up 20.6% and 23.4%, respectively, to 15.6 million and 5.7 million admissions.
Outside the E.U., Russia saw admissions hit 191 million, a gain of 9.6% over 2015 following three years of stagnating admission levels, while Norway saw its highest ticket sales in 40 years at 13.1 million, a year-on-year rise of 9%. Turkey saw its admissions down for a second consecutive year at 58.3 million, a drop of 3.6%.
Eleven of the 24 E.U. markets considered showed a rise in the share of the market claimed by domestic films. France once again recorded the E.U.’s highest local market share at 35.3%, although this was slightly down from 35.5% in 2015. Turkey retained the highest local market share across Europe as a whole at 53.4%, but like France, this was down from 2015 (56.8%). Italy saw a major gain of 28.7% compared to 21.4% in 2015, thanks largely to record-breaking comedy “Quo Vado?”
The report said that the strong results in 2016 were due to the solid performance of a comparatively large number of U.S. studio titles, as opposed to a smaller number of dominating standout performers, as well as strong results for Italian, French, Polish and Czech films in their home markets.