European Box Office Sees Record $8.4B In 2015 Led By ‘Force’-ful Hollywood

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

It’s taken a while, but the European Audiovisual Observatory has released box office findings for the 28 EU member states in 2015. At an all-time high, theatrical films generated 7.3B euros ($8.43B) across the region. That reps a 16% increase over 2014 and is the highest level on record, not adjusted for inflation. The growth was spurred by a jump in admissions (+7.4% to 976M) as well as rising ticket prices. And, was led by Hollywood films which made up 18 of the Top 20 releases.

Only in 2009 did cinemas in the EU sell more tickets, boosted by Avatar and the novelty factor of 3D. The estimated pan-European average ticket price in 2015 increased from 7 euros ($8.10) to 7.50 euros ($8.70). Local currency takings in 26 EU markets also jumped.

Hollywood studio pics were led by Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (39.8M admissions), Universal’s Minions (39.5M), Sony’s Spectre (37.9M) and Uni’s Jurassic World (30.4M). While each of the top four titles sold more than 30M tickets, not a single one did in 2013 or 2014. The 5th biggest film in terms of admissions was Uni’s Fifty Shades Of Grey at 27.25M tickets sold. As in previous years, box office was dominated by sequels/prequels and spin-offs which accounted for nine out of the Top 10 titles. On a cumulative basis, U.S. films had an estimated market share of 64%, slightly up on 2014’s 63.2%.

With the likes of Spectre and Kingsman: The Secret Service, market share for European films produced in Europe with incoming U.S. investment rose from 0.4% to 7.3%. But, admissions for fully European films declined from a record 33.5% in 2014 to 26.1% last year. Taken 3 (8.9M admissions) and German comedy Fack Ju Göhte 2 (8.6M) are the only ones in the Top 20, at Nos. 17 and 18, respectively. However, local-language pics are still bouyant in their home markets with France’s homegrown pics generating 35.2%, Finland’s 29.9%, Denmark’s 29.8% and Germany’s 27.5%.

The UK led markets with £1.24B ($1.81B) in box office, enhanced by the performance of both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Spectre. The only market to see a drop in admissions was France which was coming off a huge 2014 that included the strong takings of several local films.

Outside the EU, the Russian Federation confirmed its position as the second largest European market in terms of admissions with 174M tickets sold for $665M. If it weren’t for the devaluation of the ruble, that number would be a lot bigger. In general, exchange rates have been a bugaboo over the past few years as fluctuations have driven the dollar recoup down.

This summer is typically packed with Hollywood tentpoles, but the looming Euro Cup soccer tournament which will run from early June to mid-July poses a threat to box office; or at least has required some fancy scheduling footwork.

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