Friday, September 24, 2010

It is time for my close up, Mr Barroso

Not content with the diabolical Lux Film Prize, which is given out by the European Parliament to the most PC film made in an obscure language over the previous 12 months in the 27 countries of the European Union. (Indeed in as many of those countries as is possible simultaneously) The EU has now gone a little further to ensure that small cinemas the length and breadth ofthe Continent will be showing films to more empty houses.

The Commission today has announced State aid to art house cinemas. The sad fact is that most people would prefer to rub solvent coated sand in theior eyes than watch the sort of films that are loved by Eurocrats. So in a desperate bid to swingthe market away from ghastly popuklar films (read Hollowood imperialism) towards culturally inspired artefacts (read heavily subsidised European art cinema with an impeccable social message) they are going to bung more money at them to digitise their production. According to the press release

Cinema-going is as popular as ever in the European Union, with 981 million admissions in 2009 - up from 925 million in 2008 (source: European Audiovisual Observatory).
Total European box office receipts amounted to € 6.3 billion in 2009 – a 12% increase on 2008. The European industry's market share represented 27% of total European box office receipts.
Although the number of films made and distributed in the EU far exceeds the number of films made outside the EU, this is not necessarily reflected in market share. In 2008, for instance, 167 US-produced films were released in the EU, while 726 films made in the EU27 were distributed. However, thanks in part to the financial muscle of the American distributors, the market share of the US films in EU27 was around 65% (source: European Audiovisual Observatory).

Let's just do the maths here, though they seem to mixing 2008-2009 figures, I will concentrate on the 2008 figures as the more complete set.

Europeans go to the flicks 925 million times, of which 27% are to morally superior European films. That is almost 250 million trips to see European films. Which if we do the sums suggests that each European film, on average has a footfall of just under 345,000 visitors.

Those self same Europeans go to Nasty American films 716 million times, which suggests that they go to each American film approximately 6,750,000 times.

So it looks like that people like American films. And those that want to go to European films have plenty to chose from. So why should we subsidise things that people choose not to see?

Those figures would be far, far worse if you took out Mamma Mia! and The Quantum of Solace, which despite being British productions are essentially evil Hollywood films.

1 comment:

Daniel Mason said...

'The Edge of Heaven' and 'The Silence of Lorna' won prizes at Cannes. Likewise 'Welcome' at the Berlin International Film Festival.

So the winners of the Lux Film Prize have some pedigree, despite being in "obscure" languages like, for example, French.

In the UK, it's often difficult to see good European films, since multiplex cinemas don't screen them - as you say, they won't get enough bums on seats to make it worth their while.

It's left to arthouse cinemas to struggle on impossibly tight budgets to show quality non-English language films that some people really want to see.

Should that not be the whole point of "state aid"? To support and promote minority interests that might otherwise be unaffordable?

It doesn't stop anyone going to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Nor do people who sometimes like to watch European films think all American movies are "ghastly". They just like a bit of variety in their cultural diet, and enjoy watching quality films whatever language the actors are speaking.