China has overtaken North America as the biggest export market for European films in terms of admissions, according to a new study by the European Audiovisual Observatory.
The study found that in 2017, admissions to European films outside Europe rose by 18.7% to 97M, largely driven by growth in the Chinese market.
The report claims that “this year-on-year growth must be entirely attributed to a spike in admissions in the Chinese market, where the number of tickets sold to European films grew from 21.2M in 2016 to 35.8M in 2017. This occurred in spite of the fact that only a limited number of European films have access to the Chinese market (49 films of which 26 were first releases). When excluding China, the market volume for European films outside Europe was 61M admissions in 2017, the second-lowest value in the past five years after 2016.”
French science-fiction movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets became the most successful European film in China, taking 11.3M admissions alone. The rare success of Valerian in China mean equivalent data could look quite different in 2018, it should be noted.
According to the report, admissions to European films declined from 29.8 to 27.1M tickets sold in North America, representing 28% of total international admissions, slightly ahead of Latin America (24%). However, the U.S. and Canada remained the most significant export market for European films in terms of box office, accounting for an estimated 41% of their global box office revenues.
French and UK productions continue to dominate the export of European films outside Europe, selling 31.8 and 31.7M tickets respectively which cumulatively accounted for 66% of total admissions to European films. Spanish films followed at a distance, selling 12.1M tickets outside Europe, well ahead of Russia (5.1M) and Germany (4.5M).
The study looked at the volume and the theatrical performance of European films in 12 non-European sample markets, including North America, six Latin American markets, China and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The analysis is based on 2017 data.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets was the most successful European film in the 12 sampled non-European markets cumulatively taking 19.4M admissions, ahead of 47 Meters Down (7.4M) and Paddington (6.5M).
Admissions generated outside Europe accounted for 50% of total non-national admissions to European films. Meanwhile, European films accounted for 3% of the admissions generated in the 12 non-European sample markets.