An exceptional 2019 for Europe’s cinemas:
one billion 343 million spectators, with an increase of 4.1%
MEDIA Salles is able to publish the 2019 admissions figures for a total of 39 European territories: 1,343 million admissions, compared to 1,290 in 2018, with a 4.1% increase.
This improvement regards both Western Europe (+5.3%) - with an above-average growth rate - and Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim (+1.8%). After an isolated dip in 2018, this area of the Continent records another positive result in a chain of successes lasting over several years. If, instead, we consider the 28 countries of the European Union, the growth rate is 5.1%.
Once again in 2019, there are countries where the trend is reversed and others that have experienced an increase that is well above average.
The six leading markets
In terms of tickets sold in 2019, first place goes to Russia which, with 217.6 million (+7.6%), overtakes Europe’s historical market leader - as happened for the first time in 2017 - i.e. France. Yet here too, a record result is recorded: 213.3 million spectators (+6.1%). This is its second best performance in the past half century, bettered only in 2011, when 217.2 million spectators were counted.
The territories constituting respectively the fourth, fifth and sixth most important markets in terms of admissions also end the year with a plus sign: Germany grows by 12.6%, recording 118.6 million spectators, Italy - according to the MEDIA Salles estimates for screens active at least 60 days a year - grows to 104.5 million (+13.6%), whilst Spain benefits from an increase which, although modest (+3.9%), restores figures to above the 100-million-spectators threshold, last obtained in 2016.
The third European market, the United Kingdom proves basically stable and, with available estimates pointing to 176 million spectators, would record a 0.6% tweak to the extraordinary 2018 result that almost equalled the remarkable achievements of the ‘Seventies.
Most of Western Europe’s markets are marked by this positive trend. The Netherlands boasts an above-average growth rate (+6.5%), adding a further success to its long line of positive results and obtaining more than 38 million admissions, more than doubling the audiences of the ‘Nineties. Flattering growth rates are also recorded in Luxembourg (+8.7%), Austria (+5.9%), Switzerland (+5.6%) and Portugal (+5.1%). Growth rates substantially in line with Europe as a whole are to be observed in Belgium (+4% according to the most reliable estimates) and in Finland (+3.8%). This is the Northern European country that obtains the best result in 2019, followed by Denmark, which grows by 1.8%, remaining above the 13-million-tickets threshold. Greece records an increase of 2.3%, touching on 10 million admissions. A counter-trend is instead to be seen in Sweden, suffering from its third consecutive fall in numbers (-2.8%), Norway, which after a positive 2018 producing over 12 million spectators, sees a 6.8% drop, and Iceland, where the first figures available suggest a decrease of -12.3% compared to the decidedly positive previous year. For the second year running, audiences in Ireland decrease (-4.2%), though this is a territory that nonetheless boasts a per capita admissions rate amongst the highest in Europe (around 3 tickets a year per inhabitant).
Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim
In this part of Europe where Russia - as already mentioned - grows by 7.6%, distinctly uneven results are recorded. A decidedly high growth rate (+12.1%) is observed in the Czech Republic, where audiences grow to over 18 million, doubling the figures for the first few years of the twenty-first century. 2019 was also a highly successful year for neighbouring Slovak Republic, which once again easily passes the six-million-spectators threshold (+9.5%). Above-average increases are also recorded in Bosnia Herzegovina (+10.8%), Cyprus (+8.7%), Latvia (+7.9%), Montenegro (+7.7%), the Serb Republic (+6.9%), Croatia (+6.6%) and Georgia (+4.7%). In Bulgaria (+2.4%) and Poland (+2.0%) a more modest growth rate is to be observed. In the latter country, however, the figure represents a further rise in an uninterrupted series of improvements since 2014. In addition, in 2019 Poland recorded over 60 million spectators, doubling the results obtained in the first few years of the new century. With 3.7 million tickets, Estonia betters its 2018 result by 1.5% and manages to gain over a million new spectators over six years.
Together with Russia, overall these countries obtain around 20 million new spectators, compared to the previous year. Nonetheless there remain territories where the trend is reversed and which, overall, lose over 12 million ticket sales. They include first and foremost Turkey which, after two years with over 70 million spectators, suffers a 15.7% drop, halting ticket sales at 59 million. Next in line are Slovenia (-9.4%), Malta and Hungary, markets where estimates indicate drops of respectively 5% and 3%, Lithuania, (-2.9%) and lastly Romania and Ukraine, with tweaks of respectively 1.6% and 1.1%.