Cinema industry has recovered slightly

The Corona pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the cinema industry. However, compared to the first pandemic year 2020, there is a slight recovery in 2021. This is the result of the film and cinema statistics of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO).

In 2021, around 5.4 million tickets were sold at all box offices combined; in the first pandemic year, the figure was 4.3 million. But compared to 2019, the year immediately before the pandemic, the shortfall is still huge, with a drop of 57 percent: back then, 12.5 million cinema tickets were still sold. This picture is similar in all three language regions of Switzerland.

Accordingly, the cinemas' revenue in 2021 increased slightly compared to 2020 - from CHF 67 million to CHF 85.2 million. But in 2019, cinemas in Switzerland still took in 193.3 million francs (not adjusted for inflation).

In terms of the number of cinemas and the number of screens, however, this decline is only limited. Although the total number of cinemas in Switzerland was 257 in 2021, twelve fewer than in 2019, the number of movie theaters actually increased slightly to 603 in 2021 compared with two years earlier (2019: 605). So in the cinema industry, the concentration on multiplexes has continued. Or to put it another way: Fewer cinemas do not mean screen death.

A total of 2,255 films were screened in Switzerland in 2021. Of these, 13 percent (292) originated in Switzerland, another 48 percent (1093) from Europe and 26 percent (591) from the USA.

The situation is quite different, however, when it comes to demand. Here, U.S. films are by far the most popular, accounting for 72 percent of all admissions. European productions accounted for a further 22 percent of all admissions and Swiss productions for less than ten percent.

Many fewer American films

The pandemic also had a marked impact on the theatrical release of new films. In the second year of the pandemic, a total of 377 new films were released, compared with 283 in 2020 and around 500 each year in the years leading up to Corona. The decline in U.S. productions was particularly steep: a third fewer U.S. films were released in 2021 compared with 2019. By contrast, the number of new Swiss films, 70 in 2021, returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Among new films in 2021, European productions accounted for the largest share at 51 percent, followed by U.S. films at 23 percent and Swiss films at 19 percent. These shares have not changed fundamentally with the pandemic.

However, this breakdown is interesting in light of the fact that first-run films attract the most viewers. Before the pandemic, 85 percent of all movie tickets were sold for a new film. In 2020, that share dropped to a record low of (still very high) 74 percent. And in 2021, the share of new films in all movie admissions climbed to an above-average 95 percent. (SDA)

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