The International Union of Cinemas, representing European cinema trade associations and operators, has today released preliminary estimates for 2022 box office and admissions across the territories it covers. UNIC’s overview represents the first wide-ranging assessment of European cinema’s performance last year. Detailed final data for each UNIC territory will be released in Spring 2023.
European cinemas saw a further strong recovery in 2022 and, while final figures for several territories are still to be confirmed, UNIC estimates that admissions increased at least by 36.5 percent and that total box office for the year will exceed €5.6 billion – a rise of 55.6 percent in Europe compared with 2021. In the EMEA region as a whole box office increased from €4.4 billion to €6.6 billion, according to Gower Street Analytics.
“The figures clearly show that European cinemas are on the road to full recovery,” said UNIC CEO Laura Houlgatte. “A constant supply of new and diverse titles will be crucial for continuing to drive box office and admissions forward in 2023.”
Box office results for Austria (+96 percent compared with 2021), Czech Republic (+94 percent), Lithuania (+133 percent) and Slovenia (+149 percent) demonstrate the strength of the sector’s recovery in recent months. France, the UK, and Germany witnessed box office increases of between 62 percent and 92.5 percent on the previous year, further reducing the gap on pre-COVID levels. Spain and Italy were up 50 percent and 81 percent respectively, although their recovery compared with 2017-2019 results appear slower than other European markets.
Compared with 2019, a record year for cinemas, estimated admissions in 2022 across Europe were down 40.3 percent and box office revenues were an estimated 34.4 percent lower. In the EU and UK, estimated admissions and box office were 35.1 percent and 30.8 percent respectively lower compared with 2019.
The figures were affected by factors including a lower number of US titles released in 2022 compared with 2019, COVID restrictions which lasted until June 2022 in some territories, a very slow start to the year, a weak summer slate due to a lack of new releases, and the impact of the Russia/Ukraine war.
Box office was mainly driven by major international titles including Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Top Gun: Maverick, 2022’s highest-grossing film, took $1.488 billion at the global box office, topping the charts in the UK (£78.2 million) and Sweden (€10.567 million) while coming second in France (€55.736 million) and Germany (€35.536 million). Avatar: The Way of Water has taken more than $2.214 billion at the global box office to date – making it the fourth-biggest film of all time – proof of cinemas’ capacity to attract audiences and create global events.
Local titles also played a key role in 2022’s success, most impressively in France (40.9 percent of market share), Czech Republic (33.5 percent), Denmark (26 percent) and Finland (25.2 percent). National market share by admissions in Slovenia was 18 percent, the highest since the country’s independence 32 years ago.
Three local productions featured in Norway’s 2022 box office top 10 – Krigsseileren, followed by Olsenbanden- Siste skrik! and Teddybjørnens jul. In Romania, two domestic films made the top 10 – Teambuilding, a satire on the business world, was the most popular Romanian film in 2022 while the comedy Mirciulică came in fourth. In Spain, Padre no hay más que uno 3 grossed €745,000 with more than 108,000 admissions on its opening day, making it the best debut for a Spanish film in the domestic market since 2015.
Other than new releases, national Cinema Days also helped boost admissions across a number of UNIC territories. In France, more than 3.2 million people enjoyed the Big Screen experience during the Fête du Cinéma, a performance 4 percent above average admissions for the three previous pre-pandemic editions. In Germany, the first KinoFest brought in almost 1.1 million visitors, the best weekend performance of 2022. In Italy, more than 1.13 million admissions were registered for the first Cinema in Festa, a 123 percent increase on the same weekend in 2021 and a 317 percent increase on the previous weekend. The first national Cinema Day in the UK and Ireland attracted 1.46 million and 153,000 visitors respectively. Greece, Norway, Sweden, Poland, and the Netherlands were among other European countries which organized their own national cinema day.
Early results this year already confirm that positive trend. In January 2023, the EMEA region recorded the highest-grossing month since the same month in 2020, with box office revenue at approximately €821 million.
Gower Street Analytics forecast box office revenue this year of $7.062 billion (+7 percent on 2022) and $29 billion (+12 percent) for EMEA and globally respectively.
The International Union of Cinemas unic-cinemas.org