A Record Year At European Box Office
The total European box office grew 12 percent in 2009 to $8 billion (EUR 6.27 billion), establishing a new record, according to the Strasbourg-based European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO). Attendance surged 6 percent, with 981.1 million tickets sold versus 925.3 million in 2008. The soaring box office was also fueled by premium pricing for 3D screenings. The instigation of such pricing, the EAO said, "convinced many exhibitors to install digital 3D projection systems in their cinemas, thereby increasing screen space for these films and allowing them to realize their full potential." Three 3D films, Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Up, and Avatar accounted for 86 million tickets sold in the European Union in 2009. The Ice Age sequel alone sold 40.2 million tickets, making it the biggest hit of the year in Europe. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince took second place with 33.9 admissions.Germany manifested the greatest growth, with admissions up 13.1 percent from 2008. It was also the country that produced the most home-grown films, 194, followed by France with 182. The box office was up in 21 out of the 23 European Union countries, with only Ireland and Latvia registering a decline. Feature films produced in Europe captured 26.7 percent of total admissions, down from 28.2 percent the previous year and the lowest level since 2005. Market share for U.S. films, on the other hand, increased to 67.1 percent from 65.6 percent, the highest level since 2003.