An initiative of the EU MEDIA Programme with the support of the Italian Government
Since 1992 MEDIA Salles has been promoting the European cinema and its circulation at theatrical level




Milan, 13 February 2006


MEDIA Salles: for the first time at Berlin
data on cinema-going in 2005

For the first time MEDIA Salles anticipates the publication of data on cinema-going in Europe in 2005 at the Berlin Film Festival, including it in the “2005 final edition” of the “European Cinema Yearbook”.
The interpretation of this data shows that the last few months of 2005 – which saw a general recovery in cinema-going – proved unable to change the fate of a year marked by negative results. Throughout Europe and the Mediterranean Rim there was a decided decrease in audiences. On average the 15 countries of Western Europe for which figures are already available regress by 11%. In fact, they lose around 100 million spectators, dropping from 925 in 2004 to 824.
The ten countries of Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area that have made their data available move from 101 million tickets sold to 82, experiencing a 19% drop, with peaks of over 20% in the Czech Republic (-21%), Slovakia (-24%), Romania (-29%) and Poland (-30%).
It is, however, true that 2004, as emphasised at the time, was – especially for some countries – an exceptional year, recording very high growth. Consequently, 2005 can be re-interpreted by distinguishing the markets that have nonetheless maintained part of the growth in audiences achieved between 2003 and 2004 from those which, instead, lost it altogether. The second group includes first and foremost two countries that share the most serious drop recorded in Western Europe, equal to -19%. They are Austria and Germany, a country which, losing almost 30 million tickets compared to 2004, touches its lowest level since 1995.
A similar situation, though with a less severe drop, is also experienced by another of the five great markets of Western Europe, Spain, which closes 2005 with -14%, leaving behind 20 million spectators.
Following the same trend are smaller countries, such as Luxembourg (-15%), Switzerland (-12%), Finland (-12%), Sweden (-12%), The Netherlands (-11%), Portugal (-10%), Norway (-6%), Ireland (-5%), but also Great Britain (-4%). In the ranks of those that, instead, stood up better to the general decrease, managing to keep their audiences above the 2003 figures, are Denmark (-3%), Italy (-9%) and France (-10%).
More detailed analyses – which can be made when the data now available is replaced by final and complete figures – will make it possible to confirm if the role of domestic films which, in the countries just mentioned, traditionally enjoy higher market shares than the average for Western Europe, also lies behind this better performance.
However, it is already possible to quote Italy where the second half of the year, decidedly better than the first half in terms of audiences, benefited from the affirmation of a range of domestic titles, from Don’t Tell, The Days of Abandonment, The Tiger and the Snow, Crime Novel, Ti Amo in Tutte le Lingue del Mondo to Natale a Miami, catering for different tastes, from drama to comedy, and contributing to increasing the market share of domestic productions from 19% to about 25%.
Various hypotheses have been made in order to try and explain the negative results in 2005. Some regard phenomena of a long-term nature and located more outside the offer of films in its strictest sense, such as the change in leisure habits, the affirmation of alternative channels for viewing films (for example, dvds, the spread of which has been facilitated by reducing windows) or piracy. Other explanations insist more on the actual quality of the films released during the year, less capable – especially in the case of US films – of drawing large audiences. Amongst those who seem to favour the latter hypothesis is John Fithian, President of Nato (the US exhibitors’ association) who, when commenting on the year 2005 in the USA – which closed at -8.5%, but is still considered one of the best in the last decade – notes how the cyclical trend is a particular characteristic of cinema-going.
The very fact that a handful of films with international appeal – accompanied, in the more fortunate countries, by a number of quality domestic productions or ones with popular appeal – has managed to bring millions of spectators back into the cinemas over the past four months seems to support the hypothesis linked rather to the characteristics of the films themselves. And also to provide some hope for the future.

This is only some of the main data on cinema-going in 2005 that MEDIA Salles has presented in an exclusive preview in Berlin today, 13 February, during the traditional “Italian Breakfast” at the CineStar Imax in the Sony Center. These advance glimpses are taken from the “European Cinema Yearbook – 2005 final edition” presented on this occasion and available to participants in a cd rom version.

The “Italian Breakfast” has seen the presentation of an equally important initiative with international appeal for cinema exhibitors and professional players in the sector, who wish to bring themselves up-to-date with digital technologies: this is the third edition of “DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas”, the training course for European cinema exhibitors, devoted to the present state of digital projection and its prospects for the future, which will be held this year from 5 to 9 April at the headquarters of Barco, in Kuurne, Belgium. The company offers three participants a digital cinema projector on a free one-month’s trial.
The forms for enrolment, for which the closing date is 24 February, are available in the “Training” section of the MEDIA Salles’ website (
The enrolment fee of 450 euro covers attendance, hotel and meals.

MEDIA Salles, a project operating within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme, with the support of the Italian Government, fosters theatrical distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high profile campaigns involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives to raise the visibility of European productions with industry players and potential audiences, creating specialized information channels on a global scale. Thus the current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail in a program with a triple focus – training, promotion and information – and maximum combined effect.

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