Swedes desert the cinema

Fewer tickets were sold for films in Swedish cinemas last year than during any year since 1963, according to new statistics from the Swedish Film Institute. A lack of popular films and the rising sales of DVDs are being blamed for the fall, which echoed a drop in many other countries.

Swedes bought 14.6 million tickets at movie theatres in 2005, down 12 percent on 2004. The figure is the worst since the Swedish Film Institute started collecting statistics.

Thomas Runfors at cinema owner SF Bio told Svenska Dagbladet last year had been short on blockbusters in the mould of 2004’s Lord of the Rings film.

“I would describe 2005 as an in-between year. Films need to match public expectations, and that maybe hasn’t been the case with a number of films. But we hope this year will be better, and we have high hopes that The Da Vinci Code will bring in large audiences.”

Neither Runfors nor his counterpart at rival Astoria cinemas, Thomas Andersson, saw DVDs as competition for the cinema, despite new figures showing that 22 million DVDs were sold in Sweden in 2005, compared with 17 million in 2004.

Andersson said he saw rising DVD sales as a sign of a generally high interest in film, and therefore good for the cinema industry.

The trend in Sweden reflected falling box office figures in many other countries. The US box office slumped to its lowest level for almost a decade in 2005, down 5.2 percent since 2004.

According to figures from the UK Film Council, cinema-going also fell in many European countries, with an 18 percent slump in Germany, a 9 percent fall in Spain and an 8 percent fall in Italy. Only the UK bucked the trend, with British cinemagoers attracted by a large number of home-grown movies. Sales in Britain were up 1 percent on 2004.

The Local