European film in the digital era


European films represent nearly two thirds of releases in the EU but account for only one third of ticket sales. While the number of films produced in Europe increased from around 1,100 in 2008 to 1,300 in 2012, most European films are shown only in the country where they were made and are rarely distributed across borders. A new EU strategy on ‘European film in the digital era’, launched by the European Commission, seeks to address this challenge by highlighting the need to make the most of new methods of distribution to enhance cultural diversity and competitiveness.

“Improving the international distribution of European films is crucial, not just economically but also in terms of diversity,” said Education, Culture, Youth and Multilingualism Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. “This is one of the objectives of our Creative Europe MEDIA programme and an area where we add real value at European level. But it is clear that more needs to be done to increase the audience for European-made films and to improve cross-border cooperation.”

The Commission’s strategy paper suggests that public funding should focus more on expanding the audience for European films and increasing support for development, promotion and international distribution. At present nearly 70% of national public funding is devoted to producing films rather than maximizing audience potential. More flexibility and experimentation regarding how and when films are screened is also recommended, given the increasing popularity of video-on-demand and downloading.

The strategy will encourage a new process of dialogue – the so-called European Film Forum – to encourage an exchange of ideas on how national, regional and EU audiovisual policies can better complement each other and respond to challenges such as digitization and the difficulties many film companies face in trying to obtain funding.

Key figures

• €2.1 billion is provided annually in support of the European audiovisual industry by European film funds (source: European Audiovisual Observatory, Public Funding for Film and Audiovisual Works in Europe). This includes around €110 million a year from the Creative Europe MEDIA programme.

• In 2012, around 1,300 films were produced in the EU compared to just over 800 in the United States.

• Only 8% of European films are released in a cinema in a country outside the EU.

• In 2012, more than 60% of all films released in the EU were European, but only one third of tickets sold were for a European film. By comparison, US productions accounted for 20% of releases and 65% of admissions in the EU.

• Less than 10% of a film’s budget is typically spent on distribution.

• The average EU production budget ranges from nearly €11 million in the UK to €5 million in Germany and France to €300 000 in Hungary and Estonia. The average budget for US-produced films is $15 million (€11 million).

Record turnover
Brussels is preparing to welcome a new influx of workers engaged in employment in the European Parliament following the 2014 elections. Historically, turnover of staff has hovered between 20% and 30%, but the projected figure this time around is around the 50% mark. Welcome to Brussels, newcomers!