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Europe Sees Record Theater Admissions in 2017

Russia overtakes France as leading European market for admissions

Movie ticket sales across the whole of Europe hit an estimated record 1.29 billion in 2017, according to data released Thursday by the European Audiovisual Observatory. Figures for the 28-nation European Union showed a slight drop, but remained strong when seen in historical context.

The European Audiovisual Observatory, an agency that collates official information on the audiovisual industry across Europe, said 985 million tickets were sold across the 28 E.U. member states last year. Although this was 6.6 million fewer admissions than in 2016, a decline of 0.7%, the overall number still remained the second-highest recorded in the E.U. since 2004. The agency’s report said that the 2017 results “confirm the regained strength of the European theatrical market, which had been declining from 2010 up until 2014.”

The report, released just before the official opening of the Berlin Film Festival, said the marginal decline in total E.U. admissions could largely be attributed to a major drop in Italy and a comparatively poor year-on-year performance in France. Italy saw admissions fall 12.9% to 99.2 million. A major contributing factor was the lack of a title comparable to 2016 local comedy “Quo Vado?”, which achieved Italy’s highest admissions result of all time with 8.9 million. Italy saw its market share for local productions fall from 28.7% in 2016, when “Quo Vado?” led all titles, to 18.3% in 2017.

In France, admissions in 2017 slipped 1.8% to 209.2 million. This meant that France lost its claim to being Europe’s biggest market in terms of admissions, overtaken now by Russia, which enjoyed a record year. (The European Audiovisual Observatory tracks a number of non-E.U. territories in Europe, including Russia and Turkey.) Russia saw ticket sales surpass 200 million for the first time, finishing at 213.6 million admissions for 2017, a rise of 9.7%. Turkey saw a resurgence after a two-year stagnation, with admissions up 22.1% to 71.2 million.

Combining the figures from E.U. and non-E.U. countries, total tracked ticket sales across Europe hit their highest level on record, with an estimated 1.29 billion tickets.

Within the E.U., Britain and Germany were the only major markets to record year-on-year gains, with Britain up 1.4% at 170.6 million and Germany up 1% at 122.3 million. In total, 13 E.U. nations saw admissions rise, while the numbers tumbled in seven member states and remained stable in five. Three countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta – have yet to report final figures. Record highs were reached in Poland (56.6 million), Netherlands (36 million), Romania (14.5 million) and the Slovak Republic (6.7 million).

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”  and “Beauty and the Beast” were the top-ranked films in the E.U., along with Universal’s “Despicable Me 3.” “The first figures already available would seem to suggest that both European films and U.S. films registered a slight year-on-year decline in admissions,” the observatory’s report said. “As in 2016, it looks as though there were no breakaway successes as no single film seems to have generated more than 30 million admissions in 2017.”

Within the E.U., France and Britain achieved the highest market shares for local productions (including U.S. studio inward-investment titles), with both markets achieving local market share of 37.4%. Turkey continued to lead among all European markets with a local market share of 56.5% in 2017.

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