Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Always handy to get a look at what's happening to cinema audiences at home and elsewhere in Europe. This chart was prepared by the European Audiovisual Observatory for a press conference at the Berlinale. Their regular complete overview of 2013 will be presented at Cannes in May.

I did enquire what 'NC' denotes (as regards Ireland and Belgium) and was told "NC signifies 'not communicated' ie we didn't get these figures." Further information on numbers of national titles etc. can be found here.

As regards the current state of Irish cinemagoing I suspect admission numbers have been sliding for the last few years. It's difficult to be certain of this because several contributory factors have impacted the collection of Ireland-only data. Theres the growth in importance of new entrants in the UK distribution market; the increasing number of non-film screenings (opera, theatre etc) with figures hard if not impossible to get (while these aren't movies they do have an important bearing on the market); and the knowledge that a lot of non-mainstream, one-off screenings are taking place in arts venues, 'pop-up' venues, and at festivals for all of which there is little or no data.

Another factor in terms of evaluating market trends here is that it is nigh impossible to obtain reliable figures for the newer services competing for the cinema audience. Even where films have been released at the same time theatrically and online (VOD), and/or on a platform such as Sky Box Office, the figures have never been published. Figures for VOD services in Ireland are effectively below the radar and I would guess that adequate service provision and take up is largely limited to densely populated urban areas. And the traditional feature film DVD rental/purchase market seems to have collapsed except
for the Christmas trade and cheap back-catalogue titles but, again, figures for the Irish market are very hard to come by.

Anecdotally there is at the very least a plateau in total BO revenues here since 2011 - I would guess there's actually been a drop of about 10% in the gross before tweaking for price changes and inflation. One
would also have to look at the demographics - who is going the cinema, and when - to see if there the nature of the admissions (and not just the over-all numbers) is having an effect on total box office earnings.
Also, since 2008, there has been significant unemployment and/or emigration in the 18-25 age cohort which may be a factor in any fall in admission numbers.

There are those in the industry who are, in my opinion, too ready to blame illegal downloading for a drop-off in Irish cinema attendance. The truth is that Ireland is behind significantly on high-speed broadband roll-out and that the infrastructure is not yet capable of supporting anything like universal legal (VOD) or illegal downloading.

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