- Most recent data, either 2008 or 2007 for most countries.
- EU is there as an indicator as member states of the European Union are already present on this chart. But it shows the European countries put together become comparable to the top players (USA, China and India), which is a legit place.
- China is also split in 2 figures. One only registers what they call "modern theatres" (comparable to worldwide theatre screens). But we see that the other one, including all types of screenings (maybe in community centres in rural China, and video projectors), corresponds more to what we'd expect from a population of over 1 billion people! And it puts China above India (unlike on the Admissions chart, which was probably calculated from the "modern theatres" data)
- Curiously, despite the best scores on Production and Admissions, India is 4th, behind USA, China and EU. I wonder if the data corresponds to "modern screens" here as well. And like we noticed with the low score on the attendance per capita chart, India should build more theatres. In any case it shows that theatres in India must be packed, at every show, for every film, to sell so many admissions with so few theatres. Which is the contrary to China, where theatres are probably deserted (but reliable data is required to figure this out).
- Conversely, the USA has the largest park of screens in the world, and one of the best "attendance per capita" ratio, but doesn't sell as much as India with lower proficiency. This is explained by the difference in populations by a factor 3.8. We'll see more about that in the next post with theatre seats statistics.
- After the 3 major players, the other countries are roughly in the same ballpark, on a much smaller scale, from France (5426) to Russia (1890). The latter making a very low score for such a large population. Mexico, Japan and Brazil as well should be higher in the ranking given their population size.
- These inconsistencies between population size and screens capacity reveal a lack of enthusiasm for cinema by local population, or a lack of infrastructures investments in their exhibition circuit.
We may compare the respective ranks of these countries, with their ranks in the previous graphs. But we'll get a better idea with the oncoming "screens per capita" and "audience per screen" charts.
Let's note that from Lebanon downward, there are only a double digit number of screens available for local filmmakers to show their films in their original language to their domestic population. Imagine how one could fund a reasonable budget and plan a profitable career for a film, less than 100 screens at the time, in a couple of weeks! It's like a "limited release in selected cities" in the USA, except that there is no hope to expand in case of success.
It is unbelievable that stars manage to arise and prosper on the international scene in countries like Lebanon (Hadjithomas/Joreige), Serbia (Kusturica), Lithuania (Bartas), Cambodia (Panh)... Please be kind when you insinuate certain indie filmmakers don't make films to please their domestic audience, but allegedly to appeal to international festivals or foreign critics. Cinema is an expensive industry that cannot sustain itself with a handful of spectators only.
World cinema screens history (1985-2008) 10 major nations + EU
Backtracking a couple of decades to see if there are notable trends and variations. Globally there is constant growth between 1985 and 2000, almost double the park of screens everywhere. And then a certain stagnation since then.
Too few data for China and India! Anyone knows where to find a more comprehensive survey for these major cinema nations?
Note: the anomaly for Italy (1996-97) is probably due to a change of survey criteria, making 2 sets of databases that might not cover the same types of cinemas.
World cinema screens history (2005-2008) 19 smaller nations
World cinema screens history (2005-2008) 22 smallest nations