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European film fans have begun, slowly, to return to cinemas. Figures released Monday by European exhibitors’ UNIC association show box office revenue last year hit €3.7 billion ($4.24 billion), up 42 percent over 2020, with more than 590 million tickets sold across the region.
The result, however, still lags behind the box office performance before the coronavirus pandemic, with European theatrical revenue in 2021 falling an estimated 57 percent short of 2019 results.
Cinema closures and national lockdowns in several European territories early last year severely impacted the industry. Comparing just the second half of 2019 with the same period in 2021, where cinemas in most of Europe were open, box office was down 35 percent on average. Europe’s largest territories did better, with France seeing just a 22 percent drop in the second half of 2021 compared with the same period in 2019, and the U.K. marking a 26 percent decline.
Hollywood blockbusters were the primary driver of Europe’s box office recovery, with Sony/Marvel titles Spider-Man: No Way Home and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, MGM/Universal’s James Bond movie No Time to Die, Warner Bros.’ Dune and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga accounting for the bulk of theatrical revenue in the region.
Local-language titles, however, have also done well, with the market share for homegrown productions growing in several territories, including France, where local films accounted for 40.8 percent of ticket sales in 2021, the Czech Republic (38.3 percent) and Denmark (37 percent).
For 2022, U.K-based box office analyst Gower Street expects a major box office bounce-back in Europe, with revenue for the region forecast to top $7.8 billion this year, which would be a 75 percent increase over 2021.
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