European cinema group UNIC is predicting a major box office rebound this year, predicting ticket revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) could jump 75% to $7.8 billion.
The resounding success of the Marvel/Disney superhero tent pole Spider-Man: No Coming Home, as well as strong local titles, including French comedy Les Tuches 4 and Russian fantasy adventure drama Posledny bogatyr 3, raised hopes that 2022 could mark the end of the coronavirus pandemic’s fall at the European box office.
Spider Man, which became the first film released after the start of the pandemic to earn more than $1.5 billion at the global box office, has brought audiences back in droves to theaters across Europe. The film, starring Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch and Zendaya, grossed over $105 million in the UK and Ireland, some $55 million in France and over $41 million in Russia.
“Having faced the unprecedented challenges of the COVID pandemic, 2021 has seen cinemas around the world move rapidly along the road to recovery, with all signs suggesting that 2022 will be a pivotal year for the industry,” said UNIC on Friday. “Across Europe in particular, the past year has seen significant gains in 2020 box office revenues as cinema audiences have returned in droves to an exciting and diverse slate of new releases.”
The 2022 list is even better, with a blockbuster schedule of upcoming movies, including The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar 2.
UNIC is particularly optimistic considering that, despite the current surge in COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant across the continent, few European countries have closed cinemas, as happened during a similar wave of COVID infection around this time last year.
Citing figures from London-based Gower Street Analytics, UNIC noted that for periods when cinemas were open, box office results were closer to pre-pandemic levels. Ticket revenue in the UK and Ireland in the fourth quarter of 2021 was just 11% below the average for the same period in the three years from 2017 to 2019, Gower noted. The box office in France during the same period was only 18% lower and Russia was 29% lower than the pre-pandemic average.
“It is clear that the recovery is now well underway, with cinemas across Europe now returning from the ravages of COVID,” said UNIC CEO Laura Houlgatte. “But of course we also depend on a strong and diverse film selection, catering to all audience tastes.”
In a perhaps predictable jab at streaming services, Houlgatte said seeing online platforms as a “substitute for the theatrical experience” would “invariably result in disappointed moviegoers, rampant piracy and – above all – a reduction in overall income”. Speaking to the entire film industry, especially those who make and invest in films, she asked people to “recognize
the economic and cultural value of our proven business model, and to redouble our efforts to support a robust, diverse and reliable supply of cinematic content to cinemas.