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Only minimal recovery of Dutch film in good 2019 cinema year The Lion King best attended.

2019 was a particularly strong year in cinema. That, at least, is the verdict of Film distributors in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Association of Cinemas and Film Theatres (NVBF). At the traditional New Year's meeting at Amsterdam's Tuschinski theatre, these industry associations announced the annual figures. Over 38 million visitors in 2019, which is 6.5% more than last year. That is indeed nice. Whether that is the continuation of a trend, or just a stroke of luck thanks to the amazing popularity of top scorer The Lion King, more on that later.

Dutch film.

Because what I was most curious about was the Dutch share. The market share of homegrown work has been in a dip since 2016. After being well above 20% for several years, it fell again to 12% in 2016, and even 11% in 2018. Well, the press release may be pleased to note that Dutch film attendance increased by 11.8%, but that means the market share is still stagnant at 11.7%.

Penoza: The Final Chapter (photo: DFW)

The best-attended Dutch film was Penoza: The Final Chapter (nearly 404 thousand visitors). Not a romcom for a change. Number two and three are, by the way: In love with Cuba and F*ck love. Nice to compare that with, for example, the three titles that are in the annual poll among film journalists received the highest rating. These were the thriller Bumper sticker and youth/family films My particularly weird week with Tess and Hair salon Romy. Only the latter narrowly made it into the top 30 of Dutch cinema films with barely 34 thousand visitors.


How do we get that low market share back up? This is the question that has been floating around the film world on all sorts of occasions for over a year, but for which the beginnings of a real answer are yet to come. NVBF president Winnie Sorgdrager also touched on it in her opening speech. She believes that we should not just look for it in more money. She undoubtedly has a point there. To then point to measures already taken, which do have to do with money. First, the Film Fund's intention to put more money into fewer films. And next, the VAT covenant concluded in 2018, which means more money will flow from cinemas and distribution towards film production. The effect of these measures should become visible in the coming years.

The VAT covenant may give way to a new one proposed by the government incentive. Cinemas and streaming services like Netflix will then have to contribute 3 to 6% of turnover to a fund to finance Dutch films, drama series and other media productions. Sorgdrager called this proposal an unpleasant surprise for the industry. Personally, it doesn't seem very bad to me, with the caveat, of course, that money alone is not going to ensure that Dutch audiences return to Dutch films in large numbers.

But how to ensure that there is, say, a new Paul Verhoeven on, I don't immediately know either. Maybe it helps Soof 3 coming year anyway. Good also to remember in this context that in the good years, the market share of over 20% was largely accounted for by a small number of top scorers that attracted between 1 and 2 million fans. Films of the calibre Gooische Vrouwen.

Jumps out internationally.

Back to the overall result, as announced by Hajo Binsbergen, chairman of Film Distributors Netherlands. The fine score of over 38 million visitors in cinemas and film theatres is in line with the steady rise that has been underway since the 1990s. And that despite the beautiful summer. In this context, Binsbergen recalled that the busiest day in cinemas did not fall around Christmas, but on 30 May. With thanks to Avengers: Endgame.

Cinema attendance internationally since 2010 - (orange is Netherlands)

Compared to surrounding countries and America, the Netherlands stands out favourably with this upward trend. Elsewhere, with small ups and downs, little has changed in the past decade.

In this context, Sorgdrager mentioned the many investments made by the cinema company. Then we should not only think about digitalisation, but especially in improving accommodations, bigger screens and more seating comfort. Remarkably, the number of seats will decrease by about a thousand in 2019. After all, comfortable seating costs more space.


Incidentally, the visit increase in 2019 of 6.5% is not only related to comfort, but also to the tremendous appeal of The Lion King. More than 3 million visitors, almost three times as many as Avengers: Endgame and Joker, each accounting for over 1 million.

A look at the top 10 also shows Disney's growing hegemony. Of the five best-attended films, four are by this mega-company. Only Joker (from Warner Bros) did not.

Silver Rose

As usual, the Jan Nijland Silver Rose and Silver Rose were also awarded on this occasion. Prizes for great merit for the Dutch cinema world. Remarkably, this time these went to two filmmakers. Martin Koolhoven, who not only makes films but also communicates his love of film in many other ways, received the Roosje. He is very much appreciated. Only this: the Roosje is an incentive prize, and it seems to me that Koolhoven really doesn't need any more encouragement.

The Silver Rose was awarded to Paul Verhoeven. He could not be there himself. Now 80, he is currently in London working on his latest film Bernadetta.

Finally, the top 10 of total cinema attendance, and of Dutch films. More detailed figures can be found at, among others

Top 10 films 2019 (based on attendance)

  • 1 - The Lion King
  • 2 - Avengers: Endgame
  • 3 - Joker
  • 4 - Frozen 2
  • 5 - Aladdin
  • 6 - Bohemian Rhapsody
  • 7 - Pet secrets 2
  • 8 - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 9 - Corgi
  • 10 - Spider-Man: Far From Home

Top 10 Dutch films 2019 (based on attendance)

  • 1 - Penoza: The Final Chapter
  • 2 - In love with Cuba
  • 3 - F*ck love
  • 4 - Bon Bini Holland 2
  • 5 - What then is love
  • 6 - Singel 39
  • 7 - Misfit 2
  • 8 - Bridge class - The time of my life
  • 9 - Baantjer the beginning
  • 10 - Mees Kees in the clouds




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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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