At its annual meeting, held in Barcelona on Tuesday 21 June, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which brings together exhibitors from 39 countries on the European continent (including Russia and Turkey), drawn up a report half fig, half grape. Torn between a solid faith in the resilience of the sector, thanks to the appetite of the public to return to the cinema, and the obligation to recognize that the pandemic has seriously shaken the profession.
For the first time, UNIC has calculated that the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its cortege of closings and then reopenings of dark rooms, led to a loss of box office results of 6.2 billion euros in 2020 and 5.1 billion additional euros in 2021. Added to this are other sources of revenue, such as advertising, private events that data from the European Audiovisual Observatory extrapolate to more than 7.5 billion euros for Europe in 2020 and 2021. In total, a loss of nearly 19 billion euros in two years. “Not including rent, energy bills, or temporary leave allowances, amounting to hundreds of millions of euros per week”specifies the annual report of the UNIC.
“Serious social impact”
Still on the subject of bad news, “The social impact of the pandemic on the industry has been equally severe, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of employees” rooms, specifies this same report. Again, without taking into account the impact of these closures on other activities, such as retail businesses or services located near or inside cinema complexes.
Bringing a note of optimism to this slump, Phil Clapp, the president of UNIC, announced 590 million admissions to cinemas in the 39 European countries studied (43,000 screens) in 2021, an increase of 36.4 % compared to 2020. Revenues picked up, with 3.7 billion euros (+ 40.8% compared to 2020).
At European Union level – including the United Kingdom – nearly 400 million tickets were sold, for an estimated value of 3 billion euros. The comparison with 2019, an exceptional vintage, is all the more painful, since receipts have shrunk by 70.4% compared to this golden age. When 1.347 billion tickets had been sold in these 39 countries.
However, Phil Clapp firmly believes in it. “With the film industry now firmly on the road to recovery, we are confident that it will look back on the record results of 2019”, he promised, in Barcelona. By being careful not to give any indication on the calendar.