A BETTER YEAR FOR ADDED CONTENT
by Elisabetta Brunella
The impressive list of the 128 territories distributing “BTS: Yet to come in cinemas,” the film event devoted to the concert held in Busan last October by the celebrated k-pop band founded in Seoul in 2013, starts with Albania and ends with Zambia. Released on the first of February 2023, this added content is already the top box-office hit in its sector.
It has totalled more than 40 million dollars in box-office, reaching six thousand screens all over the world. Among them, around 10% are represented by theatres equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology, offering audiences an immersive experience. The new and extraordinary success of the BTS concert is certainly one proof of added content’s potential and its ability both to attract audience segments that are different from usual, as well as representing an added source of box-office.
But before this exploit, which marked the start of 2023, what was the market performance of added content - or so-called event cinema - in 2022, a year still bearing the scars of the pandemic crisis?
An initial picture is provided by figures already available for the United Kingdom, France and Italy, the three territories which are the most significant in Europe, because of their overall size, the role added content has played there right from its first successes and lastly their ability to document its performance.
In 2022 the United Kingdom confirmed its position as the leading market for added content, with a gross box-office of over 24 million euros. In second place, with 11 million, comes Italy followed by France, with 9.3 million.
A comparison to the years when cinemas most felt the effects of closures and restrictions shows that in the United Kingdom box-office in 2022 came to almost double that of 2020, and almost triple that of 2021, yet is decidedly short of the 60-million target almost touched on in 2019.
In Italy, instead, the 2022 results reveal an improvement of 134.5% over 2020 and of 52.2% over 2021. What is also striking is that the added content sector records gross box-office that is only 13% lower than in 2019. This is a result that differs entirely to the overall market results, which remain below the level for the three-year period 2017-2019 by a far more marked 48%.
In France, 2022 more than doubles the 2020 results and comes to almost five times as much as those for 2021. In the two years of the pandemic, the results for added content were particularly limited, probably due in part to the restrictions that severely affected live theatre productions. And it is in fact drama that represents a highly significant component of added content in the Hexagon.
Despite considerable recovery, the 9.3 million box-office is nonetheless a long way from the almost 16 million of 2019, i.e. the highest level reached by added content on the French market.
What is specific to France is the large gap between the average ticket price recorded for the overall cinema market and the price for the sector of added content: in 2022 the two values came respectively to 7.2 and 17.7 euros (with a 12.3% increase over the average price for 2017-2019). The (average) difference of over ten euros confirms once more the French spectator’s willingness to pay a premium price for this kind of content which - as has already been pointed out - in the country of Racine and Molière often comprises a strong cultural and also national element. In 2021, for example, the most widely viewed production at the cinema was “Le malade imaginaire” (The Imaginary Invalid), and theatre in general came in first place in the category of added content, winning a good slice of admissions amounting to 29.5%. Instead, in 2022, the winning trio revolved around pop music, from "Indochine Central Tour" and "BTS permission to dance on stage - Seoul”, up to "Coldplay live broadcast from Buenos Aires".
In Italy the average ticket price for added content (7.7 euros) is decidedly lower than in France, whilst still higher, though with less of a gap, than a normal ticket generally costs (6.9). One possible explanation lies in the fact that in the Bel Paese the most successful type of added content in 2022 regarded new editions of “cult” movies, programmed as “events”. Top of the charts was "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" on its twentieth anniversary, followed by the 4K version of two episodes in the “Lord of the Rings” saga, all events that were offered to audiences at an average price not exceeding 8 euros and clearly lower than the price for visual music, theatre or ballet. In fact, the average price for "Oasis Knebworth 1996" or ballets from the Bolshoi came to around 11 euros, whilst for Macbeth it came to over 13.
As has frequently emerged from research carried out by MEDIA Salles or by other organizations, one standing for all the research promoted by Nato - the association of US exhibitors, willingness to pay a premium price for added content is an overall, transversal phenomenon that regards markets in different parts of the world.
Data on the Italian market: courtesy of Cinetel.