Movie mania in S. Africa

Turkey, UAE other growth areas

South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are emerging as key growth markets in Africa and the Middle East for the international film industry, according to a report published Tuesday.

The analysis, from U.K.-based global exhibition specialists Dodona Research, indicates that the number of admissions to theaters across the Africa-Middle East region are expected to rise 40% by decade's end compared with last year.

Shopping center development has spurred growth in Turkey, where the screen count has risen from 827 in 2000 to 1,188 today. By 2010, about 33 million Turks are expected to visit a projected 1,250 screens, Dodona said.

Led by Dubai, "an even more extravagant construction boom in the UAE" has seen the number of cinema screens there nearly double since 2000 to 170, and it is expected to increase to 200 by the end of the decade.

But it is South Africa where the growth is most eye-catching. The nation's two major circuits — Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro — have slashed ticket prices at a number of multiplexes in order to attract less-affluent black consumers. The strategy has had an immediate impact, with Dodona predicting that admissions will grow from 29 million in 2005 to 47.5 million by 2010, an increase of more than 60%.

Strong economic growth rates make the region a tempting prospect.

"Consumer incomes and ticket prices are growing quite strongly in some of these countries," report author and Dodona chief Karsten Grummitt said.

The report added that, "depending on what happens to exchange rates, it is possible that the $300 million spent at the region's boxoffice in 2005 could turn into $500 million by the end of the decade."

Security concerns in Israel have meant that the territory is pitched to remain more or less flat between now and 2010, Dodona said. Screen count and admissions are forecast to end the decade "more or less where they started it," with 10.5 million Israelis visiting slightly more than 300 screens, according to the report.