UNIC Kicks Off CineEurope 2023 with a Celebration of the Big Screen Experience

Barcelona image Photo by Logan Armstrong Unsplash

Welcoming delegates at the opening ceremony of this year’s CineEurope, the annual convention of the European cinema trade group UNIC, Phil Clapp and Laura Houlgatte—President and CEO, respectively—celebrated the unique appeal of the big screen experience.

During opening remarks, both highlighted the strong performance of the European cinema sector in 2022. Last year European cinema admissions grew by approximately 36 percent, reaching 809 million visits across the region. Box office also experienced substantial growth, increasing by 55.3 percent to an estimated €5.7 billion.

Local titles played a vital role in the success of the European cinema sector in 2022. France witnessed a market share of 41 percent for domestic films. Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Czechia all achieved record-high national shares of box office revenue. Romania celebrated two domestic films making the top ten for the first time, while Norway featured three local productions in its box office top ten.

The contributions made by colleagues at US studios were also acknowledged, underscoring the global reach and impact of their films. Top Gun: Maverick emerged as the highest-grossing film of 2022, earning an impressive $1.49 billion at the global box office. Jurassic World: Dominion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Minions: The Rise of Gru were also notable box office hits. Also highlighted was the long-awaited release of Avatar: The Way of Water, which garnered $798 million across EMEA and a staggering $2.3 billion globally, making it the highest-grossing film of all time in the EMEA region and the third-biggest film globally.

2023 has already seen the release of several highly successful films that have captivated audiences worldwide, including The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Versem and Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves. And this summer looks to be equally as promising, with highly anticipated U.S. and European films—Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Oppenheimer, Barbie, Poor Things, and Strange Way of Life, amongst many others—hitting the big screen.

UNIC’s Clapp and Houlgatte also welcomed the move of Amazon and Apple into the theatrical space as well as the breakthrough successes of recent A24 releases. They emphasized the positive impact of these developments in offering an ever-wider range of diverse films for all audiences. They reiterated the significance of the theatrical model for the film industry, noting that the last year in particular provided confirmation of it being the best way to drive revenues and protect content against film theft. 

Today’s speech also mentioned the successful UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme—the seventh edition of which will launch on June 21—and the launch of the UNIC People Programme, a new initiative with the mission of ensuring that the cinema industry remains an employer of choice. Also celebrated was the second iteration of Giants of Exhibition: Europe, a ranking of the top 50 European cinema groups by screen count in Europe published by UNIC in collaboration with The Boxoffice Company.

In closing the joint speech, Houlgatte emphasised the need for EU policymakers and politicians to fully appreciate the immense economic, social and cultural value of cinemas.

In a statement issued today, Michael O’Leary issued a statement celebrating the beginning of his first CineEurope since becoming the president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, saying:

“As more movies receive robust theatrical release, there is no doubt exhibition, distributors and the creative community understand the importance of movies in the cinema. Going to the cinema is global phenomenon connecting people through the impact of film and the joy of experiencing a great movie on the big screen. Under the leadership of UNIC, CineEurope brings together leaders from across Europe to celebrate film and discuss ways to make this industry continue to evolve and flourish. That is why it is important for NATO to be in Barcelona. This industry is stronger when everyone works together.  I and the entire NATO team are committed to working with UNIC and our partners from Europe and around the world to ensure the voices of the men and women that operate cinemas are heard.”

Barcelona image Photo by Logan Armstrong Unsplash

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