22% Drop In Numbers in 5 Years for Croatian Cinemas

Lauren Simmonds

croatian cinemas

June the 6th, 2024 – Croatian cinemas have experienced a 22% decrease in visitors in just 5 years. That is equal to a drop of over one million.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, it’s very difficult to find people in Croatia who make a living from film, Vinko Brešan, one of the most productive and successful domestic directors, said recently in HRT’s show Razgovori s razlogom/Conversations with a Reason. There are several reasons why this is so. In addition to financing problems, Croatia doesn’t actually have a film studio, and Croatian filmmakers are also significantly hindered by the issue of cinema distribution.

“The cinema doesn’t work for us, so we’re reduced to multiplexes. There are no small Croatian cinemas anymore where Croatian films are screen,” Brešan stated when explaining the situation. The situation is probably further complicated by the Internet and pirating, where, relatively soon after distribution through cinemas, it’s possible to watch a brand new film online. And for free.

Croatian cinemas have lost more than 1.1 million visitors, or 22 percent of visits, in a mere five years. This is shown by the recently published data of the State Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on the state of cinematography in 2023.

Last year, according to statistics, 3.8 million viewers visited Croatian cinemas. Before the coronavirus crisis, in 2019, there were slightly more than five million viewers.

The data on the circulation of film and video films by country of origin also shows that there is little filming in Croatia taking place. Last year, there were 455 films in circulation, of which only 12 were Croatian, according to CBS statistics. Most of the films, 217 or almost half of them, came from across the pond in the USA.

Data from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) show that in the whole of 2023, 39 Croatian films were shown in Croatian cinemas.

Domestic films were watched by seven percent of the total number of moviegoers, i.e. slightly more than 266 thousand viewers. However, the figures from 2012 and for the most successful Croatian films in 2013, when more than 400 thousand people watched them, still remain unattainable.

At the same time, HAVC awarded a total of 10 million euros in support for the development and production of feature-length, documentary, animated, short- and experimental films in 2023. Cinema production was encouraged, with 193 thousand euros.

Data from the CBS show that last year cinemas generated 18.5 million euros in net income from the sale of tickets, the average price of which was 4 euros. Although these revenues are far better than those realized in 2022, namely 32 percent, cinematographers are not yet at the level of earnings they achieved in the pre-pandemic year 2019, when they earned 20.2 million euros from ticket sales.

Official statistics also show a significant increase in the number of cinemas (halls or open spaces where films are shown) in 2023. There were as many as 113, i.e. 50 percent more than in 2019.

This increase is largely attributable to a change in reporting methodology. The DZS explains that, in cooperation with the HAVC, trades and independent associations were included last year, which, according to the HAVC’s records, perform the activity of showing films.

Interestingly, the largest number of cinemas is in Split-Dalmatia County (17), followed by Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Zagreb, which have 13 cinemas. The Vukovar-Srijem County is the only one in Croatia that has only one cinema.

Only 23 independent
Most cinemas in Croatia, except in the largest domestic cities, operate as part of other business entities, most often cultural and educational institutions, such as cultural centers and public and open universities. There are only 23 independent cinemas in Croatia.

In order for the domestic film to get more space in these same cinemas, it will be necessary to solve numerous problems. In addition to financing and encouraging the private sector to enter this sector (such as in Serbia, where telecoms largely finance production, from series to films), to the construction of a film studio, which is the promise of Christopher Peter Marcich, director of HAVC, from the first mandate, i.e. 2020, which has not yet been implemented.


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