According to the statistics provided by MEDIA Salles, the number of European screens equipped with DLP Cinema or SXRD technology on 31 December 2010 totalled 10,346 with a 120.9% rise compared to the previous year. Compared to the total number of screens in Europe, in December 2010 digital screens had achieved a market penetration of 29%, as against 13.4% the previous year (table 1).
The rate of market penetration for digital screens, the highest figures being seen in Luxembourg (73%) and in Belgium (65%), has also experienced significant changes in the largest markets, reaching over the European average in the United Kingdom (38%), in Russia (38%) and in France (34%), but remaining below the overall rate for Europe in Germany (27%), Italy (23%) and Spain (19%).
The number of digital sites in Europe in December 2010 was 4,120, with a 74.1% rise over the previous year. The total market penetration of digital sites amounts to around 33% as against 18.7% in December 2009. Also on the increase is the average number of screens in digital sites, which has risen in Europe from the 1.6 screens per site registered in December 2007, to 2.5 in December 2010.
The average number of digital screens per cinema varies widely in individual European countries.
In December 2010 the highest figures were recorded in Belgium (6.8 screens per cinema), Luxembourg (4.8), Portugal (4.8), Austria (4.3), Latvia (3.7), Romania (3.6), Estonia (3.5) and France (3.5) (table 2).
Of the largest markets the lowest figures can be noted in Italy (1.9 screens per cinema), lower than the United Kingdom (3.1), Spain (2.6) and Germany (2.2).
The biggest markets in terms of ticket sales also account for the largest percentage of digital screens out of the overall total for Europe, so that France comes in first place with 18.2% of Europe’s digital screens, followed by the United Kingdom (13.6%), Germany (12.1%), Russia (9.1%), Italy (8.8%) and Spain (7.3%).
Regarding a comparison with the 2009 growth rates, the greatest development has been seen in the Scandinavian countries, i.e. Denmark (+444% compared to December 2009), Norway (+339%) and Sweden (+308%). Alternatively, if we consider the five-year period between 2006 and 2010 the compound annual growth rate is greatest in Russia (+293%), in Portugal (+216%) and in Finland (+206%), countries where the number of digital screens has increased considerably, especially up to 2009.
In Europe the development of digital screens seems to be highly concentrated with regard to exhibition companies: by December 2010 the top ten exhibitors were responsible for 32.4% of the overall number of digital screens. The top five players are: Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group (with 8.0% of digital screens), operating as Odeon Cinemas in the United Kingdom, as UCI in Austria, Germany, Italy and Portugal and as Cinesa in Spain; the French company Europalaces (4.8%), operating in Switzerland, France and Netherlands; Cineworld Group (3.9%), present in the United Kingdom and Ireland; CGR (3.7%) operating in France; and Kinepolis (2.3%), present in Belgium, France and Spain.
As in 2009, 3D cinema was again the motor for growth: the penetration of screens equipped with 3D technology as a proportion of the overall number of digital screens has continued to increase, (except in Spain), rising from 74% in December 2009 to 81.5% in December 2010.
In some countries in Central and Eastern Europe, such as Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia and Slovenia, where the number of digital cinemas is still modest, 3D screens represent 100% of total digital screens. This is also the case in Iceland.
In many countries the penetration of 3D digital screens compared to the total number of digital screens is over 90%: Russia (99.6%), Turkey (98.5%), Hungary (98.2%), Sweden (96.8%), Poland (95.7%), Denmark (95.6%), Switzerland (94%), Bulgaria (93%), Italy (92.3%), Finland (92%), the Netherlands (91.7%), Greece (91.5%), the Czech Republic (91%) and Latvia (90.9%). However, the percentage is lower in the United Kingdom, where it grew from 71.1% in December 2009 to 77.9% in December 2010, and in France, where it rose from 69.4% to 74.5%.