France, Spain Post 47%, 45% Box Office Gains in 2021

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Galvanised in part by spectacular late-year figures for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” box office surged this year 47.2% and 45% in France and Spain respectively in comparison to 2020, Comscore announced Thursday.

The full year 2021 figure for cinema theatre admissions in France was 96 million ticket sales, up from 65.2 million in 2020. In Spain, box office rallied to 41 million cinema tickets sold in 2021 representing €251 million ($283.63 million) in gross box office. (France’s CNC national film-TV agency and Comcast only report ticket sales, not box office grosses.)

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2021 overall box office in both France and Spain still pales, however, when compared to pre-pandemic years. France punched 213.2 million admissions in 2019 in a big year for international box office and 201.2 million in 2018.

Spain in 2021 was down 58% compared to the average for 2015-19, said David Rodriguez, Comscore general manager for Spain and Portugal.

In a complex year for cinemagoing, multiple factors appear to have shaped overall box office results: the length and scale of cinema threaten closures; the bows of true-blue Hollywood blockbusters; the strength of local industries; and the negative effect of attendance restrictions.

Theaters in France were shuttered this year through May 18. Once open, as the CNC pointed out on Thursday, admissions only fell 23.2% compared to 2019, which was the second biggest year in box office in France since 1965. But cinemagoing took a sustained hit with the introduction of a health pass from July 21.

In Spain, due to capacity restrictions, only 59% of cinemas operated during the first half of the year.

Bowing Dec. 15 in France, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” helped push overall cinemagoing to over Dec. 15-28 to 11.7 million, on a par with 2018 (11.6 million) and 2018 (12 million), according to Comcast. In Spain, “Spider-Man’s” release saw box office spike to pre-pandemic levels for the first time since Spanish theaters opened in June 2000, with an extended first weekend trawl of €9 million ($10.17 million) over Dec. 16-19.

French films posted a 40.8% market share. Spain had no blockbuster such as 2019’s “Father There Is Only One 2,” directed by Santiago Segura. But Segura once more brought exhibitors joy, releasing “The Kids Are Alright” in 2021 and Spanish films’ box office showed more depth.

“In short, the key facts of the 2021 French box-office are: 20 weeks of closure (Jan 1-May 18); a very promising reopening despite six weeks of limitations (capacity & curfew); a very serious slowdown due to the anticipated Health Pass in the heart of summer; a more fragile/irregular market since the fall; the return of U.S. blockbusters with two films over four million admissions (“Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “No Time To Die”); and a very consistent and solid French film offer,” said Eric Marti, Comscore general manager, France.

One point to note, he added, is a “higher concentration on the top performing titles.”

“It’s true that the recovery has been slower than expected, as has been the case in any other sector, but seeing the positive trend that we have had in December accompanied by attractive titles being released, we see that viewers are returning to the movie theaters,” Rodríguez said of Spain.

Top 10 Box Office Hits in France, 2021
(Title, distributor in France, admissions)
1 “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Sony, 4.6 million
2 “No Time to Die,” Universal, 4.0 million
3 “Dune,” Warner Bros, 3.2 million
4 “Kaamelott – Premier Volet,” SND, 2.7 million
5 “BAC Nord,” Studiocanal, 2.2 million
6 “Encanto,” Disney, 2.2 million
7 “Fast & Furious 9,” Universal, 2.0 million
8 “Les Tuche 4,” Pathé, 1.9 million
9 “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” Warner Bros, 1.9 million
10 “Eternals,” Disney, 1.7 million

Top 10 Box Office Hits in Spain, 2021
(Title, distributor in Spain, gross, admissions)
1 “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Sony, €17.47 million ($19.77 million) 2.8 million
2 “Fast & Furious 9,” Universal, €9.60 million ($10.86 million) 1.5 million
3 “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” Sony, €8.9 million ($10.07 million) 1.4 million
4 “The Kids Are Alright,” Warner Bros, €8.49 million ($9.51 million) 1.5 million
5 “Dune,” Warner Bros, €8.28 million ($9.37 million) 1.4 million
6 “No Time to Die,” Universal, €8.00 million ($9.05 million) 1.19 million
7 “Eternals,” Disney, €7.36 million ($8.33 million) 1.15
8 “Godzilla vs. Kong,” Warner Bros, €6.20 million ($7.02 million) 983,050
9 “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” Warner Bros, €6.36 million ($7.20 million) 1.0 million
10 “Black Widow,” Disney, €6.14 million ($6.95 million) 979,270

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