Europeans prefer American blockbusters
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Tuesday 10 May 2011
Unsurprisingly, EU films did not have what it took in 2010 to compete with ‘Avatar’ and other American 3D blockbusters. Results for cinema ‘Made in Europe’ are mitigated. Indeed, market shares are down to 25.3% compared to the previous year, according to statistics published, on 10 May, by the European Audiovisual Observatory. Nevertheless, cinemas have increased profits by 5%, in other words a record of €6.45 billion.
There is no denying that US productions rank among the ten to 20 biggest successes shown in EU cinemas. Except for the last ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Robin Hood’ - two British films financed by US studios - there are no EU films ranking within the first 20 films. Competing with ‘Avatar’, which sold over 43 million tickets, the French success ‘Little white lies’ is lagging far behind, with 5.4 million tickets sold. Notwithstanding, the film topped EU films - ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Robin Hood’ aside - in terms of attracting the most cinema-goers in the EU in 2010.
According to the observatory, “These data seem to reflect the impact of 3D films in their second year on the market. While it can be assumed that the novelty factor of 3D had significantly contributed in driving growth in cinema attendance in 2009, 3D films failed to further increase ticket sales in 2010 but kept cinema attendance at the second highest level since 2004 and caused the average ticket price to increase by an estimated 6.8%”.
Cinema attendance varies from one EU country to the next. In 13 markets it has increased, for instance in Belgium (+5.1%), Bulgaria (+25.1%) or Italy (+11%). Conversely, it has decreased in 14 countries, such as Germany (-13,5%), Spain (-7.6%) or Ireland (-6.6%). According to the observatory, which is attached to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, “Led by local hit ‘Little white Llies’, French films once more attracted the largest number of admissions out of all European films. Backed by strong results in their home market, Italian films ranked second, taking 4.1%, followed by German productions, which – thanks to ‘Resident evil: Afterlife’ - accounted for 3.1% of total admissions in the EU”.
ALL IS NOT LOST
All is not lost for EU cinema, however. For one thing, it continues to win prestigious prizes: out of 20 films competing at the Cannes Festival 2011, which opens on 11 May, 13 films are European (excluding the selection ‘Un Certain Regard’); and several of them are co-productions. What is more, EU cinema production is on the rise. The observatory has estimated that 1,203 feature films, including documentaries, were produced in the EU - 19 more than in 2009. This is a new record. Had German feature film production not dropped - from 129 to 84 films - this figure would have been higher still.
MEDIA Talent Prize
The European Commission also has its own cinema prize. Two screenwriters, Virág Zomborácz (Hungary) and Hanna Sköld (Sweden), were awarded the MEDIA European Talent Prize for their films ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Granny’s dancing on the table’.
The prize is awarded to the screenwriter and production company of the project judged most likely to be popular with a pan-European audience. The process is somewhat complex. This year, 93 film projects were evaluated, these same projects received in total 3.5 million euro from MEDIA - ie between 10,000 euro and 80,000 euro for each project. The two screenwriters have been invited by the Commission to be awarded their prize in Cannes, on 15 May, along with their producer. ‘Afterlife’, which narrates with dark humour the misadventures of the Hungarian Tulipán family in a small village in the post-Communist era, received 40,000 euro in funding from the Commission. As for ‘Granny’s dancing on the table’, the story of a teenager who escapes from a violent father, it received a grant of 60,000 euro. “European audiences will love [these films],” commented the Commissioner for Culture, Androulla Vassiliou.