Figures and statistics without some kind of context or explanation can be meaningless. Kim Ludolf Koch, General Manager of German chain Cineplex, opened his presentation to the 2020 Digital Cinema Summit ISE, What Drives Cinema Going Across Europe – A Comparative Analysis, with a series of graphs that he light-heartedly demonstrated could equally show the decline of tobacco consumption or road traffic deaths in Germany or the outline of a mountain in the Alps.

A similar graphic showed the gradual fall in cinema attendance in Germany, starting at 300 million in 1946 through its peak of over 800 million in the mid-1950s to a steep drop before settling at 100 million in 2018. German attendance figures were still higher than those of Spain and Italy. However, when examined in terms of attendances per capita, Germany comes out bottom, at 1.3, with Italy on 1.4, Spain 2.1, UK 2.7, France 3.3 and the US highest at 4.0.

In looking at the cinema markets of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and US, Koch said the key metrics to consider were population, attendance, per capita attendance, reach, screens per capita, average ticket price, relative ticket price and VAT on tickets.

Of all these different parameters, Koch said the most important in terms of influencing national audiences was reach. “Price is also essential in the domestic market because it has a strange influence on visitors,” he added. Taking Germany as the middle price point at €8.60, among the countries that have lower average ticket prices are Belgium (€8.20), France (€6.60) and the US (€7.80). More expensive tickets are to be found in Austria (€9), Denmark (€11.60) and Sweden (€12.10).

Despite a competitive ticket price, German cinema is having problems. In 2019, when Japan had its highest cinema attendance since 1971 and France, the Netherlands and Poland their highest for decades, Germany recorded its second lowest attendance in 30 years. Some comfort could be taken from the US having its second lowest attendance of this century (after 2017).

German cinemas are actively working to bring in audiences, particularly younger people. Tickets for under-15s are only €5 but Koch said this did not immediately solve the problem because there were people in their thirties who had never been to the cinema and probably never would. “If we don’t change [our approach] we will lose them,” he commented in a session on the future for European cinema.

Digital Cinema Summit took place on 12 February 2020 at the Hotel Okura Amsterdam. Please find the image gallery here. See you next year at Integrated Systems Europe 2021!