Territory reports

Key global markets are on their way to recovery as the global recession fades

More Cannes coverage  

While Australian films might be thin on the ground in the official lineup at Cannes this year, at home they are meeting one of the key directives of agency Screen Australia: To find and rebuild local audiences. Local films at the boxoffice last year took 5%, the highest percentage since 2001, and 50 Aussie features were released, representing the biggest slate in 25 years. Those record figures may not be replicated this year, but there may be enough diversity to make up for it -- from animated features like "Happy Feet 2," to Fred Schepisi's latest Aussie feature, "The Eye of the Storm," to indie war drama "Beneath Hill 60." Their chances of finding an audience remain high. -- Pip Bulbeck


Canadians spent a record $1.01 billion on local multiplex tickets in 2009. Unfortunately, that business was virtually all for Hollywood films as homegrown titles accounted for less than 3% of boxoffice receipts last year. Of the nine Canadian films that surpassed $1 million in boxoffice in 2009, seven were from Quebec, led by Emile Gaudreault's cop comedy "Father and Guns," with more than $10 million. The usual factors were at play: Dwindling production funds, indifferent audiences and Hollywood competition. To boost local boxoffice, Ottawa is reworking co-production guidelines, including possibly relaxing rules on foreign stars top-lining Canadian productions. -- Etan Vlessing


A potential loosening in distribution could add fuel to the exhibition fire, as cinemas sprout in China's second- and third-tier cities and demand for the cinema experience takes off among newly wealthy audience. Movie variety is broadening -- with chick flicks, musicals and horror pics spicing up the stale diet of martial arts thrillers and period war epics. Quality is sharper, too, with a greater number of local films and Hong Kong co-productions increasingly giving imports a run for their money. -- Jonathan Landreth


Despite a post-financial crisis drop in investment in its national cinema, the French film industry remains in good health with a record year at the boxoffice in 2009 and increases in ticket sales in early 2010. Admissions rose in 2009 to 199.7 million tickets, 5.7% more than in '08, just ahead of '04's record 195.5 million admissions, according to figures from state film body CNC. This year has started off well with ticket sales for the first quarter jumping 12.5%. However, there was a 26.3% dip in investment in the country's film industry in 2009 to $1.4 billion, compared with $2 billion in '08. -- Rebecca Leffler


Germany this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of reunification, but its cinema business is more divided than ever. The big multiplex operations capitalized on the "Avatar"-led boom in 3D. Boxoffice revenue jumped 23% to more than $1.3 billion. But smaller art-house operations, unable or unwilling to pay for a 3D upgrade, are struggling to survive. Audiences are also splitting. Distributor Delphi -- a midrange art-house specialist -- has filed for bankruptcy protection. More are sure to follow. -- Scott Roxborough


As much as studios push for co-productions with China, Hong Kong audiences proved their preference for films with local relevance, demonstrated by the enthusiastic embrace of a nostalgic drama about 1960s Hong Kong, "Echoes of the Rainbow," which grossed more than $3.2 million in a month, and a 1980s-style Chinese New Year family film, "72 Tenants of Prosperity," which collected $4.3 million. Noted for their local setting and sentiments, the films are the highest-grossing local releases this year so far and were the only ones competing with Hollywood imports. -- Karen Chu


The economic crisis has been good news for Italian films so far in 2010, according to the latest figures from cinema monitoring company Cinetel, which found that the Italian film sector has rebounded from a weak 2009 to take more than a third of the domestic box­office for the first quarter. Italian films sold their 10 millionth ticket of the year on March 7, the fastest to that point in four years. And, benefiting from more tentative forays into the Italian market by international players, Italy's share of the overall market reached 33.5% for the first quarter compared with 24.4% for the same period a year ago. The leading films of the year so far: Carlo Verdone's comedy "Me, Them, and Lara" and Gabriele Muccino's "Kiss Me Again." -- Eric J. Lyman


Despite last year's global economic travails, which hit Japan especially hard, the theatrical sector was in good health, with domestic productions enjoying their best year ever, taking $1.3 billion of the $2.3 billion annual total. This year has been even stronger -- though mainly thanks to "Avatar" -- with January and February up 26% year-over-year, taking in $367 million. As 3D blue people alone may not be enough to reverse Hollywood's recent sliding share of the market, local distributors are dubbing more prints. Young people in particular are believed to find reading subtitles just too much trouble. -- Gavin J. Blair


A period of uncertainty for the Russian film sector, which lasted nearly two years with things made worse by the economic downturn, seems to be over. After the dissolution in May 2008 of the federal agency for culture and cinema, which administered governmental support for cinema, the future of state funding remained unclear. But a new scheme, under which state funding is to be provided to eight selected production companies instead of individual projects under the previous system, has finally been adopted, set to bring $68 million to the industry this year. Meanwhile, it isn't yet clear if and when private capital will return to the film sector. — Vladimir Kozlov


Plunging advertising sales for broadcasters, plus legislation approved in the first quarter that dropped Spanish broadcasters' required investment in Spanish cinema to 3% of revenue, delivered a double whammy to the Spanish industry this year. With Spanish broadcasters having invested about $1.6 billion in the past decade in Spanish films, the government's decision to drop the quota from 5% seemed like the end of a golden age. Still, the country has a few national titles to look forward to this year: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful," Alex de la Iglesia's "A Sad Trumpet Ballad," Eduardo Chapero-Jackson's "Verbo" and the much-anticipated Juan Antonio Bayona follow-up to "The Orphanage," a big-budget film set to shoot in the summer. -- Pamela Rolfe


Thank goodness for exchange rate fluctuations -- or rather, the lack of them. That has helped the British film industry appeal to the U.S. more than in many recent years, despite some ongoing problems. Those problems include the fact that soft money is harder to come by, financial investors are more cautious than ever and the constant threat of a double-dip recession hangs over the movie sector. Stats compiled by the U.K. Film Council indicate that American studio investment in films shot here hit $1.2 billion in 2009, rocketing from the previous year's paltry $606 million. -- Stuart Kemp