While some data remains to be collated and figures for certain territories are based only on initial estimates, the overview provided by UNIC represents the first wide-ranging assessment of the performance of the European cinema sector in 2018. More detailed final data on the performance of each territory will be released in Spring 2019.
European cinema-going in 2018
Across 2018, cinema-going in Europe decreased by approximately 3.3 per cent following a record-breaking previous year, yet still totalled over 1.25 billion admissions and € 8 billion* at the box office for the fourth year in a row. Total admissions for EU Member States (where data was available) decreased by 2.9 per cent, with close to 950 million visits to the cinema.
Despite continued investment in technology and audience development initiatives, cinema operators across the region experienced mixed performances, with a combination of different factors - including a particularly warm summer and the FIFA World Cup - contributing to a dip in attendance in several leading European territories. Box office was mainly driven by international titles, including, but not limited to, Avengers: Infinity War, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.
Once final box office figures for all UNIC territories are available, total box office revenues will be shared.
Record performances in the UK, Turkey, Poland and Romania
Despite a very slight dip of 0.1 per cent in box office results, UK exhibitors enjoyed a record-breaking year with over 177 million admissions, the highest level of cinema-going since 1970. Similarly, Polish cinemas attracted almost 60 million cinema-goers, a 5.5 per cent year-on-year increase, bolstered by three local productions leading at the box office including Kler and Kobiety Mafii. Even more impressively, Romania almost quadrupled its cinema attendance in the last ten years, with a record 14.5 million tickets sold in 2018, as box office increased by 12.5 per cent. Finally, Turkish cinemas attracted over 70 million cinema-goers for the second year in a row, with a record-breaking 62.9 per cent national films’ market share led by the local production Müslüm.
Balanced results in France, Spain and Russia
While France experienced a 4.3 per cent decline in attendance, French exhibitors still attracted over 200 million cinema-goers and enjoyed a record market share for national films of almost 40 per cent, with three local films in the box office top five. The same trend could be observed in Spain (box office -1.9 per cent / admissions -2.0 per cent), finishing just shy of the symbolic 100 million admissions mark. Russia - after outperforming France in 2017 as the leading European territory in terms of cinema admissions - experienced its second-best year ever, despite a 5.7 per cent decrease in admissions, as local film Dvizhenie vverkh led at the box office.
Lacklustre year in German-speaking territories and Southern Europe
Germany (box office -14.8 per cent / admissions -13.9 per cent), Austria (box office -9.5 per cent / admissions -11.4 per cent) and Switzerland (box office -12.6 per cent / admissions -12.9 per cent) all suffered from a lack of successful local and international content. Decreases were also witnessed in Italy (box office -5.0 per cent / admissions -6.9 per cent), Greece (box office -7.7 per cent / admissions -7.4 per cent) and Portugal (box office -4.0 per cent / admissions -5.9 per cent).
Mixed fortunes in Scandinavia and Southern Europe
Denmark (box office +5.1 per cent / admissions +4.0 per cent) and Norway (box office +9.1 per cent / admissions +3.0 per cent) enjoyed a positive year, with several local productions making it into the box office top five, including the Danish film Journal 64. Following a record-setting 2017 and despite a 22.7 per cent market share for national films, Finland suffered an 8.2 per cent decline in admissions, while Swedish cinema operators experienced stable results, with box office and admissions declining by less than 1.0 per cent.
Continued growth in CEE and the Balkans
With the exceptions of territories such as Slovakia (box office -4.3 per cent / admissions -10.9 per cent) and Bulgaria (box office -9.2 per cent / admissions -12.1 per cent) - both after breaking their all-time box office records in 2017 - the majority of territories in Central and Eastern Europe enjoyed another year of growth, including the Czech Republic (box office +13.2 per cent / admissions +7.3 per cent), Hungary (box office +4.8 per cent / admissions +2.0 per cent) and Lithuania (box office +9.8 per cent / admissions +4.9 per cent). The same upward trend was experienced in the Balkans, with positive results in Croatia (box office +7.8 per cent / admissions +1.4 per cent) and Serbia (box office +19.9 per cent / admissions +18.0 per cent).
Admissions per capita, share of European films, outlook for 2019
Admissions per capita for all UNIC territories (where data was available) remained stable at 1.5 visits per year.
France and Ireland (at 3.2 and 3.3 respectively) again experienced the highest rates of cinema-going.
Due to incomplete figures for several countries, it is too early to assess the total market share for European films in 2018. Turkey (62.9 per cent), France (39.3 per cent) and Poland (35.5 per cent) experienced the highest national films’ market share across UNIC territories.
The industry looks forward to a particularly busy and promising release schedule in 2019, packed with highly anticipated European as well as international titles.
Table with tentative market performance indicators for 2018 (where available). Chart of top five films across UNIC territories.
Notes for editors
UNIC is the European trade grouping representing cinema exhibitors and their national trade associations across 37 European territories. More information available on unic-cinemas.org
UNIC members 2018. Complementary information from CZ (Unie Filmovych Distributoru), BG (Национален филмов център), DE (Filmförderungsanstalt), EE (Eesti Filmi Instituut & Baltic Films Co-operation Platform), FR (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée), GR (Ελληνικό Κέντρο Κινηματογράφου), HR (Hrvatski Audiovizualni Centar), HU (Nemzeti Média- és Hírközlési Hatóság), IE (Wide Eye Media), LT (Lietuviu Filmu Centras & Baltic Films Co-operation Platform), LV (Nacionàlais kino centrs & Baltic Films Co-operation Platform), ME (Filmski centra Crne Gore), PT (Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual), RU (Nevafilm Research), SK (Únia filmových distribútorov), UK (British Film Institute).
* Variations in currency exchanges rates had a significant impact on this total, particularly in relation to box office in Russia, which decreased by 17.4 per cent in € compared to 5.6 per cent in rubles, and Turkey, where it decreased by 29.4 per cent in € compared to a 3.0 per cent increase in lira. Those two territories alone account for a € 165 million loss in total box office.