European cinema admissions hit 1.25 billion for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, despite dropping 3.3% from the record level set in 2017, according to figures released Wednesday by the International Union of Cinemas, or UNIC. Total box office revenue across Europe hit at least €8 billion ($9.1 billion), also for the fourth year running.
The figures come from cinema associations and operators in 37 territories across Europe. In the smaller subset of the 28 European Union member states, the number of tickets sold fell 2.9% at just shy of 950 million, UNIC’s data show.
The trade body said exhibitors logged mixed results across the region for a range of reasons, including a particularly warm summer and the World Cup soccer tournament. The tournament took place in Russia, was won by France and saw three other European teams (Croatia, Belgium, England) make the final four.
Movies such as 2018 global champion “Avengers: Infinity War,” animated hits “Incredibles 2” and “Hotel Transylvania 3,” and musical sequel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” were among the top-performing titles driving attendance. However, it was end-of-year biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” that proved the biggest draw in the most territories – eight – including Italy and the Netherlands. Seven markets saw local productions take the year’s No. 1 spot, while “Avengers: Infinity War” topped six markets, including the U.K.
The average number of admissions per person across UNIC territories remained level at 1.5 per year, with the highest rate in Ireland (3.3) and France (3.2). Estonia followed with 2.8, the U.K. with 2.7, and Denmark and Norway with 2.3.
The mixed results across individual markets in the region were marked at one end by a near-50 year high in the U.K. and at the other by the worst downturn seen in Germany in a decade.
New admissions records were seen in Poland and Romania, while the biggest individual market jump came in Serbia, where admissions were up 18% year-on-year at 4.1 million. Poland saw ticket sales reach 59.7 million, a rise of 5.5%, with three local productions topping the charts, while Romania saw admissions up 4.5% to 14.5 million. Romania’s ticket sales have nearly quadrupled over the past 10 years.
Turkey registered a small drop in cinema attendance in 2018, with admissions down 1.1% from 2017’s 71.2 million. But local productions enjoyed a record-breaking 62.9% market share.
Despite a year-on-year drop in cinema attendance of 5.7%, Russia scored its second best year ever with 200.2 million admissions. The drop did mean, however, that France regained its status as Europe’s biggest market for ticket sales after ceding that honor to Russia for the first time in 2017.
Scandinavia had mixed fortunes. Denmark and Norway both enjoyed strong years, with attendance up 4% and 3%, respectively. Sweden remained stable, with admissions dipping a marginal 1%. Finland experienced a sharp 8.2% fall in attendance despite a good (22.7%) market share for local films.
Central and Eastern European territories continued to experience growth, with the exceptions of Bulgaria and Slovakia, which experienced drops of 12.1% and 10.9%, respectively, following record years in 2017.