The European box office saw more than 1 billion admissions in 2001, generating upwards of Euros5.6bn, according to new research from global cinema analysts Dodona Research.
Dodona's Cinemagoing Europe report forecasts that the value of European box office will continue its current upward swing to hit Euros7.4bn by 2006, despite a slowdown in cinema screen growth after intense development in many markets.
According to the report, which covers 21 countries, almost 20,000 of Europe's 28,629 cinema screens and 76% of the region's admissions are in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
But despite their size, these five markets have not been the fastest growing of Europe's cinema markets in recent years. Since 1995, Portugal has been the fastest growing European market, with a 120% increase in screens and a 255% rise in box office. Dodona predicts that Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Greece will show the greatest box office increases over the next few years.
And while some exhibitors have a significant European presence - UGC and United Cinemas International have 886 screens each - the European market remains highly fragmented, with only 30 companies operating more than 100 screens. An influx of international exhibitors has fragmented the European market further, says Dodona, but the number of competing circuits is starting to fall with the withdrawal of some exhibitors.
Cinemagoing Europe also warns against too broad an approach to pan-European exhibition, highlighting the fact that individual territories can show significant disparities in terms of demographics and audience attitudes to cinemagoing.
"Recently we saw some research purporting to show that the British, Germans and the French spend exactly the same on concessions," said Dodona's Karsten-Peter Grummitt. "That's certainly not our perception - but it is an example of the kind of broad-brush approach to these very different markets that has cost investors a great deal of money in the last few years."
The report goes on to argue that the multiplex has not been as central to the revival of the European cinema industry as many believe. "Although new cinemas have certainly aided the industry's recovery, other factors such as rising living standards and increased leisure spending underpin the steady growth in the market," the report reads. "Also, contrary to popular belief, multiplexes have not caused further Americanisation of European cinema."
Last year was an especially successful year for domestic film industries. In Denmark and Poland domestic films accounted for more than 30% of the market while France, Spain, Sweden and the Czech Republic posted domestic film market shares upwards of 20%. Also notable were strong performances by local films in Norway and the Netherlands where historically domestic film industries have had limited impact.
% change 1995-2001
% change 2001-2006
Population per screen
Admissions per person
Admissions per screen
Source: Dodona Research
Screen growth %
Eu box office growth %
Source: Dodona Research