European film production hit a record high in 2008, according to new research from The European Audiovisual Observatory.

A record 1,145 features (including documentaries) were made in the EU, up by just over 10% film from 2007 levels. The split is 878 fiction features and 267 feature documentaries (the latter rose by 58 from 2007). 

Provisional data estimates that European films had a market share of 28.4% in 2008, nearly matching the high of 28.6% in 2007. France had the highest local market share, with 45.4% led by Welcome To The Sticks and Asterix at The Olympic Games. French productions also fared well across Europe, with a 12.6% share of total admissions, up from 8.4% in 2008.

The EAO estimates that EU-wide cinema attendance was up 0.5% to about 924m. Eastern Europe made gains in attendance, with Bulgaria up 14.2%, Romania up 29.7% and Slovakia up 21.3%. Spain, however, saw its fourth straight year of shrinking admissions, down 7.8%.

The countries showing growth were Italy, Ireland, France, and Spain. France is the most active producer, with 196 features, followed by Germany, Spain and Italy.

Country-specific fiction features were up from 632 to 675, and international fiction co-productions remained mostly steady at 203.

The Observatory will host its annual conference, Show Me The Money, at 4 pm today on the fourth floor of the Palais.