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China now the biggest market for European film tickets

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-08-07 15:29

China has overtaken North America as the largest export market for European films in terms of admissions, according to new data released.

The European Audiovisual Observatory also found more Chinese cinema goers bought tickets to watch European films than those in the United States.

Ticket sales for European productions in China grew from 21.2 million in 2016 to 35.8 million in 2017, accounting for a record high of 37 percent of all admissions to European films outside Europe. The analysis is based on 2017 data.

The study said this is "despite the fact that the Chinese market remains accessible only for a highly limited number of European films" and it does not yet offer "realistic market potential for the vast majority of European films".

China's foreign film quota meant that fewer than 30 European films had a theatrical release in 2017, compared with 233 screened in North America in the same year.

In North America, cinema audiences for European films fell to 27.1 million the report said.

However, higher ticket prices in the US and Canada meant that North America is still a lucrative market in financial terms, taking in 41 percent of box office receipts.

The sci-fi epic Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets is about space adventures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

French science-fiction movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a coproduction with Chinese partner Fundamental Films, was the most successful European film in China, taking 11.3 million admissions alone. This is followed by British family film Paddington 2 with 6 million viewers and Spanish thriller Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest), which attracted a Chinese audience of 5 million.

According to the report, admissions to European films in another Asian market, South Korea, remained stable at 4.7 million, the lowest level in the past five years, adding: "Together, China and South Korea accounted for 42 percent of total admissions to European films outside Europe in 2017."

In 2017, 671 European films were released in the cinema outside Europe. The European Audiovisual Observatory said global audiences for European movies have been growing steadily, increasing on average by 10 percent over the past five years.

French and UK productions dominated the export market of European films outside of Europe, with French titles selling 31.8 million tickets and those from Britain selling 31.7 million, which cumulatively accounted for 66 percent of total admissions to European films. Spanish films followed at a distance, selling 12.1 million tickets outside Europe.

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