The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents cinema trade associations and operators in 38 markets across Europe, has released preliminary 2020 box office estimates for the territories covered by the organization.
Their findings indicate that, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant closures and occupancy restrictions, European cinemas saw a 70.6 percent drop in box office in 2020, accounting for a total decrease of €6.2 billion in revenues compared to 2019. A 69 percent reduction could be observed in the cinemas hailing from the European Union, resulting in a €4.0 billion drop in revenues.
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 in 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 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.
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 percent as audiences returned to cinemas during summer 2020.
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 at this time. 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.