THE LUMIERE DATABASE IS A BRAND NEW SOURCE OF INFORMATION ON THE STRUCTURES OF THE EUROPEAN FILM MARKET
The LUMIERE database is more than just a collection of information on admissions to individual films distributed in Europe. It also offers various types of statistical analysis (not accessible on-line) that can be used to gain a clearer understanding of certain market structures. It therefore provides a useful statistical tool to function alongside the Statistical Yearbook published by the European Audiovisual Observatory since 1995. Specific reports (on a particular market or the success of films produced in a specific country, for example) can be produced on request, provided applications are addressed to theObservatory expert responsible for the database.
Content of the LUMIERE database and interpretation of data
When the database was inaugurated on 13 November 2000, it covered the years 1996-1999, with details of 6,395 films produced in 68 countries by some 3,918 directors. Half of these films were produced between 1996 and 1999 and half between 1922 and 1995. Clearly, we are unable to indicate the total number of admissions to films produced before 1996, since the figures available do not cover the whole period in which these films were shown.
As the section on "Methodology" points out, the database is not exhaustive and its coverage rate varies from country to country. The main consequences of this are as follows:
in countries with less than 80% coverage, the main gaps concern American films other than the top ten or twenty blockbusters;
in certain countries, the data does not cover the end of the distribution period (ie after the first or second year of distribution) or admissions to catalogue films.
A lack of data on a film distributed in a particular country should be interpreted in the light of the coverage rate for that country: if the coverage rate is very high, it probably means that the film was not distributed in that country or, if it was, that it achieved poor results. However, in countries with a low coverage rate, it is clearly much more difficult to interpret a lack of data.
Comparing production and distribution
In countries with a reasonable coverage rate, the LUMIERE database can be used to determine the relationship between film production and distribution. It is possible to compare the number of films that have definitely been commercially distributed (since we have statistical data on admissions to them) with the number of films produced, as indicated by national sources (and published in the Statistical Yearbook).
For example, the Observatory estimates that production levels within the European Union rose from 563 feature films in 1996 to 634 in 1999. However, the number of films definitely distributed rose from 433 in 1996 to 495 in 1998. This might indicate either that the number of films produced is exaggerated or that one in four European films is not commercially distributed.
In the same way, the number of films produced in the USA can be compared with the number of American films distributed in at least one national market within the European Union. It seems that around one in two American films is screened in Europe.
Comparing supply and demand
It is also interesting to compare supply (ie the number of films distributed in at least one of the member States) with demand (expressed as the market share achieved by the various film producing regions).
The contrast is striking: American films only represent between 39% and 46% of supply, but account for 66-76% of admissions. On the other hand, films produced in the European Union represent between 45% and 53% of supply, but only 22-33% of admissions. Films from the rest of Europe still account for less than 2.5% of those produced and a market share of under 0.2%. Between 6 and 7% of films are made in another part of the world, but their market share fell from 2.5% in 1996 to 0.9% in 1999.
Concentration of success
The LUMIERE database can be used to classify films in "bands of success". The table above covers the whole European and United States markets, showing a huge difference between the two industries. It suggests that, while 314 American films achieved over 5 million admissions between 1996 and 1999, only 30 European films reached a similar level of success.
CLASSIFICATION OF FILMS IN BANDS OF SUCCESS (NUMBER OF ADMISSIONS IN EUROPEAN AND US MARKETS BETWEEN 1996 AND 1999)
Distribution of European Union films on the EC market
The LUMIERE database provides more detailed analysis of the distribution of films produced in the European Union on the EC market.
Admissions within the European Union to films made in the EC increased from 162 million in 1996 to 202 million in 1999. Most of these were admissions to films in the country of their production. However, the number of admissions to films outside the country in which they were produced rose from 56 million in 1996 to 82 million in 1999. The proportion of admissions achieved outside national markets therefore grew from 34.6% in 1996 to 40.6% in 1999.
Analysis of film exports
The LUMIERE database can be used to analyse the film export levels achieved by specific countries. For example, the following table lists the top fifteen countries exporting films to Europe and the USA in 1999. Apart from the USA, the United Kingdom, France and India, these export results are largely due to the success of one film.
The LUMIERE database can also produce a "Community export ratio" for the various national film industries. This is the ratio of admissions outside the national market, expressed as a percentage of all EU admissions to the films produced by a particular country.
The European Union's five major film-producing countries, which are also those with most admissions, have contrasting Community export ratios. Between 55% and 70% of EU admissions to British films take place outside the national market. At the opposite extreme, only 5%-17% of EU admissions to German films are registered outside Germany. The ratios for French, Spanish and Italian films are much more variable, usually fluctuating on the basis of a single blockbuster, eg in Italy, Il Postino in 1996 and La Vita è bella in 1998 and 1999.
As might be expected, small countries are more likely to have high Community export ratios. If they are able to access the Community market, films produced in small countries more easily attract a comparatively large audience abroad than in their own country. However, Community export ratios are usually linked, even more closely than in large countries, to the success of a single film.
The LUMIERE database can be used to draw up different types of chart, covering one or more markets. For example, here is thechart of the twenty most successful films in the European Union market to have received production aid from the Council of Europe's Eurimages fund.