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Which Market for European Films?


The aim of this research by MEDIA Salles is to provide a detailed description of the distribution of European films in Europe and to make a quantitative analysis of the phenomena lying behind the difficulties that have always been experienced by European films in crossing the threshold of their country of origin.
Although the results of the research are rather complex and difficult to classify, some main trends do emerge:
1. The considerable variation in admissions for European films recorded on
average over the past seven years, which proves to be clearly higher than the
variation for American films. In addition, the low correlation between the trend in admissions for European films and that for overall admissions on all the Western European markets on which the average admissions for European films are highest.
2. The high concentration of ticket sales for European films on a handful of titles. In 2002 total admissions in 31 countries were concentrated on 8 European films, of which only three (Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre, Die Another Day and About a Boy) obtained more than 10 million spectators throughout Europe and were widely distributed (on average 23 markets were covered); the other five (Gosford Park, 8 Femmes, Hable con Ella, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain and Resident Evil) sold between 5 and 10 million tickets in Europe, with a distribution that was the same as that of the top three titles.
3. The widely varying extents to which domestic films manage to draw audiences
abroad. The European films most widely distributed in Europe are UK
productions: in fact the top ten most widely viewed domestic films on the home
market in 2002 drew 60% of their total admissions outside their country of origin.
British films are gaining growing market shares especially in Western Europe,
for example in Iceland (with 81.3% of the total admissions for European films in 2002), in France (59.1%), in Spain (54.2%), in the Netherlands (53.9%), in
Germany (45.1%) and in Sweden (40.9%). The impact of French films is still
strong, and they were most widely seen in Luxembourg in 2002 (with 58.6% of
overall admissions for European films), followed by Italy (48.7%), the United
Kingdom and Ireland (38.7%), Finland (36.1%), Denmark (22.5%) and, as
regards Central and Eastern European countries, Poland (73.7%), Romania
(70.7%), Yugoslavia (55.1%), Estonia (47.8%), Hungary (44.3%), the Czech
Republic (42.8%) and Latvia (42.0%).
German films come in third place, in terms of ticket sales, in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Latvia, although with a percentage of admissions that is often far lower than that of French and British films. Over the past few years, the distribution of Spanish films has increased, with significantly higher percentages: 24.2% in France, 21.0% in the United Kingdom together with Ireland, 10.5% in Italy, 10.9% in Denmark and 10.3% in Luxembourg. The 10 Italian films most widely seen on the home market in 2002 obtained only 2.8% of their total admissions abroad.
4. The time lag in the release dates on the different European markets. This
hinders communication and international promotion and represents a danger
because of the low number of admissions that leading domestic films obtain on
the home market in the year following their release, with the exception of
Spanish and French films only.
5. Co-productions play an essential role, especially outside their country of origin.
Indeed, amongst the European films with the highest admissions in Europe in
2002, the top eight were co-productions. It is interesting to note that in some
cases these co-productions accounted for over half their admissions in the
partner countries, for example: Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (coproduction F, D) sold 71.3% of all its tickets in France and in Germany, About a Boy (UK, USA, F, D) 58.3% in the United Kingdom, Germany and France,
Gosford Park (UK, USA, D, I) 57.8% in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany
and Resident Evil (D, UK, F) 50% in France, in Germany and in the United
In addition, admissions in Europe for US-European co-productions, especially those with the United Kingdom and Germany, are on the increase. Whilst in 2000 only O Brother, Where Art Thou (USA, F, UK) with 4 million admissions, was classified amongst the 50 films most widely seen in Europe, in 2001 two co-productions came into this classification:
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (USA, UK, JP, D) and Traffic (USA, D), totalling 24.8 million tickets; in 2002 five films were classified, for a total of 35.8 million admissions.
The countries that invested most in US co-productions were Germany and the United Kingdom, which obtained a good deal of success with audiences in 2002, in particular with the films Red Dragon (USA, D, UK), 40 Days and 40 Nights (USA, UK, F, CA) and The Bourne Identity (USA, D, CZ).
The research study “Which market for Europe’s films?” was distributed during the Cannes Festival together with the “European Cinema Yearbook – 2003 final edition”.

An analysis of the circulation of European films in 2002
Edited by MEDIA Salles

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