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Silver screen loses lustre as cinema takings across Europe fall

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Robin Wright with Kevin Spacey in 'House of Cards' - Netflix most sucessful show.

Robin Wright with Kevin Spacey in 'House of Cards' - Netflix most sucessful show.

Patrick Harbron

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IN THE age of Netflix and on-demand TV, are we still interested in going to the cinema?

New data from the European Audiovisual Observatory shows that, increasingly, the answer is no.

Total cinema admissions across the EU fell by 4.1pc to 908 million tickets in 2013, the statistics showed, with around 39 million fewer tickets sold than in 2012.

This is the second lowest admissions level in the EU since the turn of the century. More than two-thirds of EU markets experienced a decline, while admissions increased in only eight out of the 26 EU countries for which provisional data was available.

Admissions were down by 16pc in Spain, by 5pc in France, by 4pc in the UK and 4pc in Germany. Only Italy withstood the general downward trend, with admissions up by 6.6pc to 106.7 million tickets in 2013.

Apart from Italy, year-on-year growth in cinema attendance of over 1pc was only achieved in seven Central and Eastern European member states, led by Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania.

Full 2013 admissions data is not yet available for Ireland, but box office sales figures support this falling trend. At €102m for the year, they were down 5pc on 2012's take of €107m.

Some of this decline is blamed on the record-breaking success of Bond movie 'Skyfall' in 2012, along with high emigration and youth unemployment. The most frequent cinema-goers in Ireland are those aged between 18 and 35, the age group most likely to emigrate. Adults in this bracket go to the cinema twice as much as the national average.

Still, our cinema attendance continues to be one of the highest per capita in the EU.

"Nothing can replace the thrill of seeing a film on the big screen," says Eoin Wrixon, general manager of Carlton Screen Advertising.

"Despite the various economic challenges we face, and no matter how austere the budget, a trip to the cinema is one treat we will always allow ourselves."

Seven of the top 10 highest grossing movies in Ireland last year were 3D blockbusters, generating 43pc of all box office revenues. Sequels and franchises accounted for 32pc of box office takings, including 'Despicable Me 2', 'Iron Man 3' and 'The Hunger Games'.

While family movies dominated the top 10, dramas were also very successful. They accounted for 20pc of sales, with dramas based on real events proving particularly popular. 'Captain Phillips' was the highest-grossing drama while tsunami movie 'The Impossible' came in second.

Irish Independent