Dutch Box Office Hits 30-Year High in 2012

2:22 AM PST 01/11/2013 by Scott Roxborough

Local romantic comedy "The Family Way" was the sole Dutch film in a top 10 dominated by Hollywood titles and led by "Skyfall."

COLOGNE, Germany -- The Netherlands improved on its already impressive box office performance of 2011 with another stellar year that saw attendance tick up and revenue top $322 million.

Ticket sales of 30.6 million for the European nation with a population of 16 million marked a 0.6 percent increase and the best figure in more than three decades.

Total revenue was also up slightly, at $322 million (€245.4 million), compared to €240 million in 2011, though this was mainly due to a 1.5 percent increase in the average ticket price.

The strong performance at the Dutch box office further illustrates the growing divide between Europe's northern territories -- including the U.K., Germany and Scandinavia -- which are seeing record theatrical returns, and the south, particularly Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, which have been hit hard by the ongoing European economic crisis.

While in previous years local language films accounted for much of the growth in the Dutch theatrical market, 2012 saw the empire strike back as Hollywood blockbusters dominated screens. Skyfall was the number one film in the Netherlands last year, earning more than $23 million there. Only one Dutch movie -- the romantic comedy The Family Way -- cracked the top 10, earning $7.9 million.

Overall, Dutch films took a 16.3 percent share of the market, down from 22.3 percent a year earlier.

2012 was also the year the Netherlands went all digital, with 100 percent of the country's cinemas now converted to digital screens. The conversion, which the Dutch government estimates cost around $72 million, puts the Netherlands at the cutting edge. Only a handful of countries -- including Norway, Luxembourg and Hong Kong -- have fully converted. 

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