European cinema sales increase in 2006

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On the basis of currently available data, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that around 862 feature films were produced in the 25 member states of the European Union in 2006, 47 films more than in 2005. This represents a 5.8% increase on the total for the previous year (815 films).

Countries contributing to overall growth included Germany, Italy and Spain. With 174 new features released during the year, Germany registered the highest production level on record. Entirely national fiction and documentary features were the principle areas of growth, with co-production numbers remaining stable in relation to 2005. Factors contributing to the increase included a higher than usual number of very low budget features obtaining theatrical release.

After a lean period in 2005, Italian film production showed renewed vitality in 2006. A total of 117 films were produced, a figure identical to that of 2003, though inferior to the record level of 138 films registered in 2004. Upward momentum was also evident in Spain, where a total of 150 films, the highest level of the last twenty-five years, were produced. Again an increase in the number of entirely national films was the principle growth factor.

Increased public funding as well as higher levels of investment in production by broadcasters underpinned the upswing. Other countries showing increased production activity in 2006 included Austria (+10 films) and Hungary (+10 films) while provisional figures for Poland also indicate a rise in the number of new national films completed. In the United Kingdom the number of films produced remained stable in relation to 2005.

Two notable exceptions to the trend were Denmark (-12 films) and France (-23 films). Both countries had registered exceptionally high production volume in 2005 and the decrease in 2006 represents a return to more normal levels of activity.

In line with the decrease in the number of films produced, the value of investment in French production in 2006 fell by 7.4% to EUR 865 million.

There was a significant drop in the number of very low budget (less than EUR 1 million) and mid-range (EUR 2 to 7 million) films made. The overall value of production activity in the United Kingdom rose sharply to GBP 842.4 million, reversing the dip observed in 2005 (GBP 577 million). The rise was principally accounted for by the increased value of incoming productions, contributing GBP 569.6 million to the overall total (GBP 308.7 million in 2005).

Total admissions in the European Union reached 926 million, a 3.6% rise on the lacklustre 2005 total of 894 million. The admissions lost between 2004 and 2005 were not, however, entirely recovered in 2006; the result is still around 80 million admissions short of the high-points registered in 2002 and 2004.

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