Africa, Middle East key screen growth markets

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LONDON -- South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are emerging as key growth markets in Africa and the Middle East for the international film industry, according to a report published Tuesday.

The analysis, from U.K.-based global exhibition specialists Dodona Research, indicates that the number of admissions to theaters across the Africa-Middle East region are forecast to rise 40% by the end of this decade from 2005 numbers.

Shopping center development has spurred growth in Turkey, where the screen count has risen from 827 in 2000 to 1,188 today. By 2010, some 33 million Turks are expected to visit a projected total of 1,250 screens, according to Dodona.

Led by Dubai, "an even more extravagant construction boom in the UAE" has seen the number of cinema screens there nearly double since 2000 to 170, and is expected to increase to 200 by the end of the decade.

But it is South Africa where the growth is most eye-catching. The two major circuits -- Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro -- have slashed ticket prices at a number of multiplexes in order to attract less affluent black consumers. The strategy has had an immediate impact, with Dodona predicting admissions will grow from 29 million in 2005 to 47.5 million by 2010 as a result, an increase of more than 60%.

Strong economic growth rates make the region a tempting prospect.

"Consumer incomes and ticket prices are growing quite strongly in some of these countries," report author and Dodona chief Karsten Grummitt said. "Depending on what happens to exchange rates, it is possible that the $300 million spent at the region's boxoffice in 2005 could turn into $500 million by the end dona said.

But security concerns in Israel mean that territory will likely remain more or less flat between now and 2010, Dodona said in the report.

Both screen count and admissions are forecast to end the decade "more or less where they started it," with 10.5 million Israelis visiting just over 300 screens, Do of the decade." But security concerns in Israel has meant that territory is pitched to remain more or less flat between now and 2010, Dodona said in the report.

Both screen count and admissions are forecast to end the decade "more or less where they started it," with 10.5 million Israelis visiting just over 300 screens, Dodona said.
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