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The European box office continues to bounce back, but theatrical revenues are still a ways from their pre-pandemic peak.
According to official figures released by European Audiovisual Observatory on Thursday, gross box office receipts across the European Union and the U.K. were up 70 percent in 2022 to $5.5 billion (€5.07 billion), with an additional 250 million tickets sold, bringing total attendance figures to 657 million. The return of the studio blockbusters were the main drivers of the theatrical resurgence. Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Minions: The Rise of Gru were the top films across Europe last year, selling 34.4 million, 30.6 million, and 30.2 million tickets respectively.
Both revenue and attendance figures, however, are still well below those seen before the COVID pandemic. 2022 ticket sales were just 67 percent of the admission averages recorded between 2017 and 2019. The gross box office was down 29 percent from the 2017-2019 average.
There was considerable variation even between the major European markets, with the French box office at 80 percent of its pre-pandemic average, while Italian theaters reported returns barely half of what they averaged pre-COVID.
European films continue to struggle to break out theatrically or to cross national borders. With the exception of Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a nominally British film but U.S. studio-produced movie, no European production managed to sell more than 5 million tickets in the region last year or crack Europe’s top 25. Fantastic Beasts booked just under 15 million admissions across the E.U. and U.K. last year, well ahead of the number two European production, another studio-backed feature, Universal’s Downton Abbey: A New Era, which sold 4.1 million. Number three was the French comedy sequel Serial Bad Weddings 3 with 3.8 million admissions, the vast majority coming from within France.
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