Despite an admissions drop, the EU box office recorded its biggest ever year predominantly due to increased 3D ticket prices

A new report from the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) indicates that gross box office takings in the European Union increased by 5% year-on-year in 2010 to a record high of around $9.25bn (€6.45bn).

This increase came in spite of a 1.6% decrease in admissions to 967m tickets sold, which the EAO believes reflects the impact of 3D films in the marketplace, with 3D films contributing to an estimated 6.8% increase in average ticket prices. 3D films accounted for 16% and 17% of the total admissions in major markets like France and Germany respectively.

Ten of the twenty biggest films in the EU in 2010 were US 3D blockbusters with Avatar leading the way, selling an estimated 43m tickets.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was the biggest non-3D film in the top 20 EU territories with around 31m tickets sold, coming second overall. However, discounting the UK-US co-productions Harry Potter and Robin Hood, no European film made it into the top 20, with market share for EU films dropping to its lowest level in the past five years at just 25.3% of total admissions.

EAO also reported that the number of EU film productions rose to a new record in 2010 with roughly 1,203 films (including 333 feature documentaries) produced within the EU, 19 more than in 2009. France once again posted the highest production output with 203, closely followed by the 186 films produced in Spain.