Emerging Movie Markets in South-East Europe Buck Recession

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Box office is up in developing markets across the Western Balkans, Romania and Turkey, according to a report by the Sarajevo Film Festival.

WROCLAW, Poland – Emerging movie markets in the Western Balkans, Romania and Turkey are all showing increases in box office revenue, bucking the trend that has seen theatrical results hit hard across Southern Europe and the region during the economic crisis.

The State of the Region report published by the Sarajevo Film Festival suggests that developing markets are relatively recession-proof.

Similar trends are evident in admissions, the report says, although "looking at the number of admissions per inhabitant, all countries in the region, with the exception of Austria," are well below the European Union average of 1.85 admissions per year per inhabitant.

Movies driving the emerging market success are largely U.S. blockbusters, the report, which looks at the five years between 2008 and 2012, suggests.

"Market share of national films and other European film is relatively low across the region, and the box office has been ruled by mainstream studio product for a long time, with the exception of Turkey where national films' market share is around 50 percent and European films hold lower single digit percentages, while the rest belongs to Hollywood," the report says.

There's plenty of room for expansion in a region where the "number of inhabitants per screen shows the region is largely under-screened with only a handful of countries around the EU average while the other fall far behind it," it also concludes.

New technology is spreading across the region with multiplexes increasingly going digital with the exception of Turkey.

Box office figures show that over the past five years in the region Turkey was the leader with ticket grosses ranging annually between $213 million in 2008, about $250 million in 2010 and $220 million in 2012.

Austria, one of only two core EU countries, apart from Greece, included in the region, peaked at $240 million in 2009 before settling into a range of $153 million -$180 million.

Box office in most countries dipped from 2011 to 2012, with Austria down nearly 9 percent from $180 million to $165 million and Greece down 20 percent from $132 million to $105 million.

But small emerging markets saw growth, with Kosovo up 80 percent from $87,000 to $160,000 and Bosnia & Herzegovina up 54 percent from $1.7 million to $2.6 million. Serbia posted an increase of nearly 28 percent to $9.3 million, with Hungary up 7.5 percent to $58 million and Croatia up nearly 5 percent to $20 million. Romania was also up just under 3 percent to $43 million.