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European box-offices tank 70.6% due to Covid2019 shutdowns

Lockdowns wiped $7.5 billion off theatrical revenues.

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NEW DELHI: On the back of multiple Covid2019-induced shutdowns, European cinemas lost billions in box-office revenue in 2020, according to data released by the Brussels-based International Union of Cinemas (UNIC).

The report showed a box-office drop of 70.6 per cent across Europe last year, with theatrical revenues plunging a total of $7.5 billion across 38 European territories. 

Italy, the first European nation to go into Covid lockdown, saw a 71 per cent drop in box office revenue for 2020. In Sweden, which introduced capacity restrictions but did not order cinemas to close, theatrical sales fell 65 per cent.

The country that fared reasonably well is Denmark, where box office fell 47 per cent year-on-year. But this was mainly due to Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelsen, which sold more than 800,000 tickets, making it one of the most successful releases of all time in the country. 

UNIC noted that several factors contributed to the 2020 box-office crash. Even in nations where theatres remained opened or were allowed to reopen, there was a lack of big ticket releases, with most Hollywood studios postponing or cancelling the theatrical showing of their blockbusters.

Consequently, revenues fell everywhere and national titles could only partially fill that gap. Several European countries saw the box-office share for local titles hit new heights. Danish films accounted for 49.4 per cent of theatre admissions in 2020. In France, the figure was 44.9 per cent. In Italy, more than half — 56.6  percent — of cinema admissions last year were for local films.  

That's little consolation, however, for Europe's hard-hit cinema owners. While acknowledging that national governments have introduced various support schemes in the wake of the pandemic, UNIC said the crisis is far from over.

It urged policymakers at the local, national and European level to enforce strong recovery strategies to ensure that European cinemas can survive this challenging period and “be once again the vibrant home of culture, freedom, and community that they always have been."s

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