The Brussels-based International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents European cinema’s main trade associations, is launching an appeal for more government support to face an estimated 70.6% drop in total 2020 box office grosses across Europe, which it says accounts for a loss of €6.2 billion ($7.5 billion) in theatrical revenues compared to 2019.
“National governments and European institutions have introduced various support schemes since the start of the crisis, which have been crucial to cinema operators,” UNIC acknowledged in a statement on Thursday. “But the crisis is far from over, with most European cinemas still closed.”
“UNIC urges policymakers at the local, national and European level to enforce strong recovery strategies to ensure that European cinemas — of all sizes and all locations — can survive this challenging period and be once again the vibrant home of culture, freedom and community that they always have been,” the statement added.
The UNIC €6.2 billion ($7.5 billion) estimate for 2020 losses includes the U.K., which recently exited the EU.
“These challenging figures are the direct consequence of the impact on the cinema industry of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused months of complete closure and occupancy restrictions across Europe and globally,” the statement said.
UNIC also pointed out that the 2020 pandemic-prompted plunge followed a very successful 2019, when European cinemas had grossed over €8.8 billion ($10.6 billion) in total at the box office and generated more than 1.34 billion admissions. In the European Union, “cinemas had recorded their best results for 15 years,” the statement said, with admissions reaching the 1 billion mark for the first time since 2004.
According to preliminary figures, a similar 69% plunge took place in the European Union in 2020 resulting in a €4.0 billion ($4.8 billion) drop in revenues across the EU.