The studios increased their European market share last year to 67.1% of ticket sales – the highest level since 2003. Latest statistics from Strasbourg-based European Audiovisual Observatory show how the movie business is becoming increasingly winner takes all. The number of films generating more than 5 million admissions increased from 34 to 42. And the top 100 films accounted for 75% of 2009’s 981 million admissions – up from 69%.
Box office increased by 12% year-on-year to €6.3 billion ($8 billion), the highest level on record. This was partly due to increased ticket prices as exhibitors charged more for 3D blockbusters. Ireland and Latvia were the two countries out of the 23 EU member states whose box office fell. Germany had the biggest box office increase at 13.1%, followed by France (5.7%) and the UK (5.6%).
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was last year’s most popular film in Europe, selling 40.2 million tickets, followed by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (39.3 million) and Up (23.7 million). Leaving aside Harry Potter – which is arguably a Hollywood movie rather than a British one – only one unquestionably European film, Slumdog Millionaire, made it into the top 20.
Worryingly, European production also increased last year with 1,168 features cranking up – a new record high. I wonder how many of those movies are films audiences actually want to see, as opposed to directors just making things for themselves.