State of the European Film/TV Industry post-COVID


Industry Revival & Audience Comeback

It couldn’t be a more perfect timing for France recording a massive box office come back during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, especially after a €4bn EU box office revenue drop compared to 2019. This good news is also shared in other EU countries like Spain and Germany taking us back to the “good-ol” pre-pandemic days. The high theater visitor numbers provide an omen for congested distribution slots for the upcoming year.

Stay updated with the changing schedules of film festivals and market dates here.

Heightened Production Spendings

Purely Streamonomics (Purely.Capital) published some interesting infographics showing that the global spending on production and licensing content increased by 16.4% in 2020 to $220.2bn and is expected to continue to do so to $250bn for 2021.

Source: Purely Streamonomics based on SEC filings

The report also finds that COVID protocols and monitoring schemes were responsible for a rise of 20% to 30% in production costs. Apart from those, costs in connection with “green production initiatives” will add about 5%-10% to the total budget.

European companies have gotten help, with local broadcasters, and state subsidy bodies, stepping in to shoulder some of the extra cost.

Production in a (post-) COVID world

With EU countries lifting travel bans as well as quarantine obligations, US film/TV workers and crews are now also able to pick up shooting again. Key countries with major production facilities including Hungary (e.g. additional shooting for Dune, Netflix’ Terra Vision), Czech Republic (e.g. Marvel Studio’s The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Amazon’s Carnival Row), Croatia (e.g. reshoots of HBO’s 2nd season of Succession), Serbia (3rd season of CW’s Outpost) and Bulgaria were all fast to ‘okay’ filming. In most instances, production on local projects has resumed, or is close to doing so.

Domestic as well as all foreign film/TV shoots will have to adhere to local COVID-19 production safety guidelines, which vary from country to country but focus on similar issues, like hygiene. The European Film Commissions Network (eufcn) has created an overview on the required measures which can be found here.

Having said that, hold-ups may still arise if new lockdown measures due to a spike in cases of the new Delta or Epsilon variants get out of control.

Supporting Programs

  • The EU Parlament created the new Creative Europe MEDIA program to boost funding for film/TV, film festivals, training measures, distribution, video games, and international co-production funds. From 2021-2027, that program will have a total budget of €2.4bn, which is an increase of almost €1bn. The program will be structured into clusters such as content, audience, business, and transformation.
  • The Recovery and Resilience Facility Temporary Framework adopted by the EU Commission supports Member States to provide for State aid measures, such as direct grants, tax advantages, guarantees on loans (and subsidized interest rates), and wage subsidies for employees. The EU Commission lists the latest measures applicable in each country on their website.
  • A new interactive tool offers funding opportunities for audiovisual and news media sectors as of 2021. See the Recovery Resource Platform navigating the user through EU programs here.


Major Trends in EU’s Audiovisual Industry 2020/2021

Just like in other parts of the world, expectations are that new experiences within the creative industries in the EU will emerge. The pandemic has shown that virtual worlds are acceptable alternatives for audiences to escape into entertaining media. Those changing behaviors will create long-lasting impacts on how stories and immersive experiences will be brought into existence.

The pandemic has also triggered a move toward new methods of filmmaking, such as virtual productions (3D models of landscapes/worlds that shift perspective creating the illusion of a physical location). Most prominently, the virtual production facility at Studio Babelsberg in Germany, has taken up shooting Uncharted and Matrix 4 during the pandemic with no interruptions.