Chinese boxoffice in overdrive

UAE, Russian exhibition also on fast track

LONDON -- The fastest-growing market for movie exhibition can be found in the nation with the world's fastest-growing economy.

From now through 2012, China will see admissions rocket 108%, according to a report released Monday by exhibition specialist Dodona Research.

The report, entitled Cinemagoing Trends and Forecasts, also points to the United Arab Emirates and Russia as countries on a growth curve. Dodona said UAE admissions will grow 33%, while Russia is likely to see a 31% rise by 2012.

Dodona predicts that France will be the strongest performer among the mature markets of Western Europe and North America, with admissions up 16% over the next five years.

The research shows sales of cinema tickets worldwide rose 2% in 2007, hitting 7.4 billion, while boxoffice increased nearly 10% to $28.2 billion, helped by falling exchange rates for the U.S. dollar.

The Cinemagoing Trends and Forecasts database covers 57 countries -- including Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and the U.S. -- which together house 4.5 billion people.

Dodona estimates that these 57 countries account for more than 95% of the worldwide cinema business measured by boxoffice receipts. In 2007, there were 110,457 cinema screens operating in these countries, up from 98,932 in 2002.

But the report carries a warning in light of difficult conditions in financial markets and the world economy.

Dodona expects a less favorable picture over the next five years, with 2008 shaping up "to be a fairly flat year in most territories" outside China, Germany and France.

"In the West, the perception is increasingly that cinema is a technology story, with profits growth only likely to come from digital cinema and 3-D within an essentially mature market," Dodona chief Karsten-Peter Grummitt said. "But it is still also an emerging markets story, with significant gains being made in regions like Eastern Europe and parts of Asia."