European cinemas saw a 70.6% drop in box office in 2020, accounting for a total decrease of €6.2 billion in revenues compared to 2019. A similar 69.0% reduction could be observed in the European Union, resulting in a €4.0 billion drop in revenues. These challenging figures are the direct consequence of the impact on the cinema industry of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused months of complete closure and occupancy restrictions across Europe and globally.
These figures come after a very successful 2019, when European cinemas grossed over €8.8 billion at the box office and attracted more than 1.34 billion cinema-goers. In the European Union, cinemas had recorded their best results for 15 years, with admissions reaching the 1 billion mark for the first time since 2004.
Additional impacts on revenues – such as lost concession sales and screen advertising income as well as cancelled events – have put the cinema industry under significant financial strain, with thousands of staff members furloughed in the past months.
Despite all of these unprecedented challenges, cinema operators have shown their resilience and capacity to adapt, preparing and implementing detailed health and safety guidelines while launching reopening campaigns, all to ensure the safe return of staff and cinema-goers. Despite a lack of new film content, in particular from the major US studios, cinemas have shown their essential role in the promotion of local content and European culture. With the support of local distributors and producers, national films’ market share reached new heights across the region, such as in Denmark (49.4%), Czech Republic (46.4%), France (44.9%), Italy (56.6%), Russia (46.9%) and Poland (50%). In total, 15 European territories registered a market share for national films of above 25%, as audiences returned during Summer 2020 to enjoy the sorely-missed experience of enjoying a film together, on the Big Screen.
National governments and European institutions have introduced various support schemes since the start of the crisis, which have been crucial to cinema operators. But the crisis is far from over, with most European cinemas still closed as of publication of this press release. UNIC urges policy-makers at the local, national and European level to enforce strong recovery strategies to ensure that European cinemas – of all sizes and all locations - can survive this challenging period and be once again the vibrant home of culture, freedom and community that they always have been.
Charts showing estimated decreases in box office as well as national films’ market share across Europe in 2020. Additional industry figures for all UNIC territories will be shared in Spring 2021.
2020 UNIC members. Complementary information from CZ (Unie Filmovych Distributoru), BG (Национален филмов център), DE (Filmförderungsanstalt), FR (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée), GR (Ελληνικό Κέντρο Κινηματογράφου), HR (Hrvatski Audiovizualni Centar), HU (Nemzeti Média- és Hírközlési Hatóság), IE (Wide Eye Media), LT (Lietuvių Filmų Centras & Baltic Films Co-operation Platform), LV (Nacionālais kino centrs & Baltic Films Co-operation Platform), ME (Filmski centar Crne Gore), PT (Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual), RU (Russian Cinema Fund Analytics, Russian Film Business Today, Nevafilm Research), SI (Slovenski Filmski Center), SK (Únia filmových distribútorov), UK (British Film Institute).