Written by Ivana Katsarova
In spite of the fact that Europe pioneered both technological and content innovation in cinema, at present the EU film landscape is characterised by the strong presence of Hollywood productions. In 2013, they held a share of nearly 70% of the EU market, while European productions represented only 26%. What makes the major US companies so powerful is the fact that they are vertically integrated, with activities spanning production and distribution, allowing them to spread risks over several films, and reinvest profits in new projects. To offset the financing challenges facing EU film companies, different types of film-support schemes have been set up, accounting in 2009 for an estimated €2.1 billion (excluding tax incentives and interventions by publicly funded banks and credit institutions).
Notwithstanding the ever-increasing presence of Hollywood majors, the European film industry is quite dynamic and encompasses over 75 000 companies, employing more than 370 000 people, and reaping some €60 billion in revenue in 2010. Within the EU, the ‘Big Five’ – France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain – account for around 80% of releases, industry turnover, and persons employed.
In its 2014 communication on European film in the digital era, the European Commission identified a number of structural weaknesses which prevent the EU film industry from reaching potential audiences in the EU and globally. Along with the fragmentation of production and issues related to financing, there is greater focus on production, resulting in limited attention to distribution and promotion, and insufficient opportunities for international projects.
Helping overcome distribution barriers for European films is also one of the European Parliament’s goals through the LUX Prize, awarded annually since 2007. The winner of the prize does not receive a direct grant. Instead, during the LUX Film Days, the three films in competition are subtitled in the 24 official EU languages and are screened in more than 40 cities and at 18 festivals, allowing many Europeans to see them.