European Union: UNIC, the Exhibition Trade Body Representing European Cinemas, Looks Forward to a Strong Recovery in 2023

Laura Houlgatte Abbott ©DR

By Laura Houlgatte, CEO UNIC, and Sonia Ragone, Industry Relations & Research Manager UNIC

We’re delighted to be back in Las Vegas for CinemaCon 2023—a true highlight in the industry calendar. Huge congratulations must go to NATO colleagues for once again putting together an exciting program of seminars, presentations, and screenings. We would also like to thank John Fithian for the great partnership over the years and wish him the best of luck in his new adventures. We are looking forward to working with his successor, Michael O’Leary, and continuing our strong collaboration with NATO.

After two challenging years, cinemas furthered their strong recovery in 2022 all across the globe. In Europe, UNIC estimates that admissions increased by at least 36.5 percent and that the total box office for the year will exceed €5.6 billion—a rise of 55.6 percent compared with 2021. Special mention must go to several countries in particular. France, the U.K., and Germany witnessed box office increases of between 62 percent and 92.5 percent on the previous year. Box office results for Austria (+96% compared with 2021), the Czech Republic (+94%), Lithuania (+133%), and Slovenia (+149%) also demonstrate the strength of the sector’s recovery in recent months.

The 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, but local titles also played a key role in 2022’s success—you might want to check Krigsseileren from Norway, Teambuilding from Romania, Padre no hay más que uno 3 from Spain, or Simone from France.

National Cinema Days—a topic that will be discussed this year at CinemaCon—also helped boost admissions across Europe. In France, more than 3.2 million people enjoyed the Fête du Cinéma, and in Germany, the first Kinofest brought in almost 1.1 million visitors. In Italy, more than 1.13 million admissions were registered for the first Cinema in Festa, and the first national Cinema Day in the U.K. and Ireland attracted 1.46 million and 153,000 visitors respectively. Greece, Norway, Sweden, Poland, and the Netherlands were among other European countries that organized their own national cinema day.

2023 has so far been continuing this positive trend. January generated an impressive $3.6 billion in worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing single month globally since December 2019. In February, the EMEA region recorded its fourth highest-grossing month in the past 12 months. And the rest of the year looks promising; audiences will be spoiled for choice!

UNIC also continues to carry out several initiatives, all helping us to get the word out as to the value of the big-screen experience and ensure that the economic, social, and cultural contributions of cinemas are given the recognition they thoroughly deserve. Through regular meetings with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the European Commission and Member States, as well as contributions to events at the industry and policy levels, we make sure the voice of cinemas in Europe is heard.

The UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme continues to inspire and empower with its seventh edition to be launched at CineEurope this year, thanks to the ongoing support of Vista and Imax as Champions of the Programme. We can’t wait to see our fantastic mentors and mentees again at CineEurope this summer and look forward to what the rest of the year holds.

In partnership with colleagues at Boxoffice Pro, we will also publish the second edition of Giants of Exhibition: Europe, ranking the top 50 European cinema groups by screen count, which demonstrates the strength and diversity of the European cinema industry.

And last but certainly not least, this year’s CineEurope is shaping up to be back in its full splendor! Our annual convention, organized in beautiful Barcelona, provides a prime opportunity for more than 4,000 attendees from across the globe to get together and discuss the latest trends and cutting-edge developments in cinema exhibition. With exhibitors from 85-plus territories and the best presentations and screenings from our studio partners in Hollywood and across Europe, CineEurope continues to be at the forefront of efforts to explore and showcase the ever-changing world of cinema.

We’re currently putting the finishing touches on a dynamic program in collaboration with partners from across the sector. Keep an eye on our website for more details, and we hope you’ll be able to join us from June 19 to 22 to celebrate the big- screen experience.

Laura Houlgatte Abbott ©DR

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