The Little Prince The Little Prince

A new report has mapped out the state of European animation, including new data on how theatrical productions are made and watched on the continent.

The research is published by the European Audiovisual Observatory, an arm of the Council of Europe (which is distinct from the European Union). It focuses on the years 2015–19, following on from the organization’s previous report, which looked at 2010–14. The full report is available here.

The report paints a picture of a highly active industry that produces many animated films, but which does not receive strong support from European audiences. Read on for our takeaways from the theatrical data, which refers to the period 2015–19 unless otherwise stated.

1) Hollywood dominates Europe’s animated film market.

Four fifths of admissions to animated films on the continent are for U.S. productions. European features accounts for 16% (an average of 35.1 million annual admissions), while the non-European/non-U.S. features account for 3%. Across all categories of film, European titles account for a much bigger 29% of admissions in Europe (true of E.U. nations in 2019).

European Audiovisual Observatory
2) Europe produces around 55 theatrical animated films per year.

France leads the pack, with an average of 8.8 films per year as sole producer or majority co-producer. Russia follows with seven films, then Germany with six. There was a big spike in 2018, which saw 84 films. The total number is up from an annual average of 50 in 2010–14.

European Audiovisual Observatory
3) A third of these films are international co-productions.

Or 37%, to be precise. Russia is an outlier here, in terms of its independence: it produced 32 of its 39 films alone. So is Turkey, which produced all 16 of its films alone. For France, in contrast, 44 out of 55 films were co-productions. Across European live-action fiction films in 2019, only 22% were co-productions.

European Audiovisual Observatory
4) British productions get more admissions than films from any other country.

Animated films from the U.K. averaged 13.3 million admissions per year; France came next with 11.5 million. But there’s a big caveat: the report counts British films like Paddington 2 and Cats as “animation,” when in fact they are hybrid films with substantial amounts of live ation.

European Audiovisual Observatory
5) The Little Prince is the most popular European animated film of 2015–19 …

… in terms of worldwide admissions: 17.6 million. Paddington 2 is ahead of it in the chart, but isn’t fully animated; nor is Cats, which is also in the top ten. Of the eight animated films in the top ten, three are co-directed by the Belgian Ben Stassen: Robinson Crusoe, The Son of Bigfoot, and The Queen’s Corgi. The U.S. or Canada are co-producers on five of those eight.

European Audiovisual Observatory
6) China is the biggest market for European animated films outside Europe.

The country sees an average 6.51 million admissions annually for these films — that’s almost 40% of their non-European market. The U.S. is a distant second, with 2.76 million. In all, European animated films’ admissions are split roughly evenly between their native country(/ies), other European countries, and the rest of the world.

European Audiovisual Observatory

Data is based on the Observatory’s Lumiere database. Graphs reproduced with Observatory’s permission.

Image at top: “The Little Prince”

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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