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News in brief

27 September 2013 à 17:01

Panorama of movie theaters around the world

To coincide with the debate on the future of our movie theaters held at the Exhibitors' Convention in Deauville, Unifrance has complied an overview of global developments in this sector.

France's international promotional agency for French films, uniFrance Films, highlighted the overall growth in the number of movie screens around the world, noting a relative stability in established markets (such the USA, Europe, and Japan), as well as strong growth in emerging markets (such as China, Russia, and Latin America).

Registering an overall increase of 5% in 2012 compared to 2011, the number of movie theaters worldwide currently stands at 130,000 screens, including 40,000 screens in the USA (against 39,000 in 2008), 29,000 in Europe (against 28,500 in 2008), 13,200 in China (against a meager 4,000 in 2008), 3,200 in Russia (against 1,900 in 2008) and 2,600 in Brazil (against 2,000 in 2008). This growth in the sector explains the rise in global movie attendance figures and box office revenues, which increased from $27.7 billion in 2008 to $34.7 billion in 2012.

Unifrance emphasized in this report the fact that the digital multiplex cinema format (more than 8 screens per site) has gained strength across all continents, most often located in shopping centers in the suburbs of major cities. At the end of 2012, over 90,000 screens around the world were equipped with digital technology (representing 70% of all movie theaters), including 45,000 screens equipped with 3D technology (compared to just 2,500 in 2008). While the smaller independent theaters in city centers are tending to close down, the market share captured by multiplexes overall has increased, accounting for 50% of sites in Italy, 65% in Spain, and 85% in Japan at the end of 2012. In the USA, the figure reached 80%, with 32,000 mulitplex screens registered at the end of 2012 (against 29,000 in 2008). In this period, smaller theater operators in the USA fell back from around 9,000 theaters to 7,600.

While there are still significant disparities between countries (in ticket prices, for example, which varied in 2012 from an average of €1.7 in India to almost €16 in Norway, compared to €6.4 in France), Unifrance notes that, paradoxically, the increasing number of screens worldwide does not have the effect of increasing cinematic diversity. On the contrary, the spread of multiplexes and the absence of regulation (as exists in the French exhibition sector) has led to a global standardization of the supply of films as well as the frequent multi-programming of a single film (supplied by one of the American majors) on several screens at the same site, with only screening times differing.

As a consequence, local films' market share in the vast majority of international markets remains low, as does the diversity of films offered, with only a few notable exceptions (such as India, where national films' market share exceeded 90%, and Egypt, with 80%, Japan, with 65%, South Korea, with 59%, and France, with over 40% in 2012).

Despite these observations, Unifrance highlights the emergence of new trends, such as the creation of small-scale multiplexes located closer to city centers, which program a wider variety of films. This trend is accompanied by the appearance of arthouse screens within multiplexes, such as in South Korea (including the Movie College at the CGV multiplexes and the Lotte chain's Arte screens), and the conservation in a number of countries of independent theaters aimed at movie enthusiasts (such as in Japan, Colombia, and Peru). And finally, Unifrance indicates that the French funding model for the exhibition sector attracted considerable international interest, particularly in emerging markets that show a commitment to protecting their local movie industry from domination by the Hollywood studios, such as in Brazil, where the local Film Board (Ancine) is currently taking inspiration from the support provided to French exhibitors, and China, where movie industry authorities show a strong interest in the French system of requiring programming agreements between distributors and exhibitors, which guarantees the diversity of films offered to audiences in France.

Author : Xavier Lardoux

Latest update : 16 September 2014 à 17:01 CEST


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