Even though just about every objective statistic suggests otherwise, the copyright industries still take turns bemoaning the terrible toll that piracy is supposedly taking on their markets. So it’s good to come across some official figures that suggest the contrary, particularly because in this case they come from the European Audiovisual Observatory—not a market research company, but a public service body. Here are the latest numbers for the European film industry:
2011 was a year of stabilisation at the European box office as the marked upward trend of GBO [gross box office] of the past two years slowed down significantly, resulting nevertheless in an overall year-on-year increase. Based on provisional data the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates that EU gross box office returns increased marginally by 0.7% from EUR 6.37 billion [$8.14 billion] to EUR 6.4 billion [$8.18 billion], still the highest level on record. Cinema attendance remained stable with an estimated 962 million tickets sold.
Note that this is no mere one-off — the report speaks of a “marked upward trend” of the previous two years that has slowed down significantly, but is still there, leading to what it terms “the highest level on record”. That’s about box office sales, but maybe the European film industry itself is suffering under the onslaught of popular US movies? It seems not:
2011 saw European films claiming back market share which they had lost to US 3D blockbusters in 2009 and 2010. Based on provisional figures, estimated market share for European films in the EU climbed from 25.2% to 28.5% in 2011, back to the ‘pre-3D’ levels of 2007 and 2008. Market share for US films on the other hand fell from 68.5% to an estimated 61.4%. This would be lowest level since 2001.
The best result for a decade, then. Now, that’s all very well, but might still be the result of a few anomalous European blockbusters that have distorted the figures. According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, that’s not the case:
EU production levels continued to grow to 1,285 feature films in 2011, 59 films more than in 2010 and a new record high.
In other words, in 2011, Europe note only saw record box office receipts at cinemas, but also record indigenous film production. It’s a little hard to see how anyone could try to spin that as another “piracy is destroying the European film industry, we must bring in tougher copyright infringement laws” story, but I’m sure the usual suspects will try their darnedest.