European Box Office Hits Record $8.24 Billion in 2011

Untouchables (Intouchables) film still - H

3D market matures, but average ticket price increases by just 0.5 percent.

LONDON -- 2011 was a year of stabilization at the European box office as the upward trend of the past two years slowed down, resulting nevertheless in an overall year-on-year increase, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Based on provisional data, the Observatory estimates that European box office returns increased slightly by 0.7 percent from €6.37 billion ($8.2 billion) to €6.4 billion ($8.24 billion), the highest level on record. Cinema attendance remained stable with an estimated 962 million tickets sold.

Though the number of 3D releases as well as 3D screens increased notably in 2011, the format matured in markets like the U.K., where, despite an increasing number of 3D releases - from 28 in 2010 to 47 in 2011 - 3D share dropped from 24 percent to 20 percent of total box office. But 3D didn’t boost average ticket prices, as had been the case in 2009 and 2010, with the pan-European average ticket price increasing by 0.5 percent to €6.60 ($8.50).

In European markets, 2011 cinema-going trends varied, with admissions decreasing in 11 and increasing in 15 markets for which data were available, while box office increased in 14 and decreased in 12 markets. Territories that performed well were France (up 4.7 percent), the U.K. (up 5.2 percent) and Germany (up 4.1 percent) while Spain and Italy saw a decline in both admissions as well as box office.

2011 saw European films claiming back market share which they had lost to U.S. 3D blockbusters in 2009 and 2010. Based on provisional figures, estimated market share for European films in the EU climbed from 25.2 percent to 28.5 percent in 2011, back to the ‘pre-3D’ levels of 2007 and 2008.

With 72 percent of its total screens converted to digital at end 2011, the U.K. had the highest digital screen penetration among the six major European markets, ahead of France (67 percent). With 50 percent and 54 percent Germany and Russia followed but were well ahead of Spain and Italy where roll-out did not grow at comparable speed and only 39 percent and 38 percent of the total screen based digitized by the end of 2011.