Central European Movie Theater Industry Set to Boom

central europe cinema

If visitors to Central European countries want to do as the locals do, they should buy a movie ticket, entertainment industry magazine Variety reports.

Central European countries are on the verge of an investment boom in movie theater construction that should see an annual rise of 20 million filmgoers within five years and box office receipts up by 6 percent or more from this year, according to a Dodona Research report.

The report, "Cinemagoing Central Europe," says the annual number of movie theater visits in Central Europe—Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia—is set to rise from 72 million last year to 92 million by 2013.

The number of screens—3,157, a figure roughly equivalent to Canada or Japan, but where box office is less due to lower ticket prices and under-utilization—is set for a sharp rise in coming years.

Ambitious expansion plans by exhibitors in the region could double capacity in Bulgaria by 2013. In Romania, the number of screens is expected to grow from 122 to 350 over the same period. The increase in screens in Romania should see a three-fold rise in admissions by 2013 from 3.4 million in 2008 to 9.5 million, the report says, with per capita cinema attendance across Central Europe on par by that time with figures for some of the richer Western European territories today. Digital cinema is also set to grow in Central Europe, driven by the potential of 3D movies.

Both Palace Cinemas, an exhibition network in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and Poland's Multikino have recently announced plans to convert their chains to digital projection, which could provide a catalyst for others to follow, the report says.