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Cinematic year 2022: post-corona recovery in full swing and applause for The Tatas and Knor

How many? 25 million, that's how many visits Dutch cinemas and film theatres could record last year. Of course, we always want to be the first to know when the cinema industry announces the 2022 annual figures.

Encouraging. A sense of relief. Two years the results were, of necessity, presented online from an empty Tuschinski theatre. Now this beautiful hall is once again packed with guests for the New Year reception of the NVBF (cinemas and film theatres) and FDN (distributors). "Everything came at us except the visitors," is how Ron Sterk (CEO Vue Nederland) summed up a retrospective of the corona crisis. But now there is optimism again, although there are still areas of concern.


There are numbers and there is applause. And there are awards - the Silver Rose and the Silver Rose for great merit for Dutch film culture. Who the lucky ones are I'll mention later.

The figures show that after two dramatic corona years, the industry has climbed considerably out of the doldrums, but not quite yet. The applause is for the crew of The Tattas, the multicultural comedy that just recorded 400,000 visits and receives the first Platinum Film of 2023 for it. The Dutch market share is also satisfactory, although less so than in the corona year 2021. Why it could peak just then, how we should read the figures and how the Netherlands is doing internationally, Ron Sterk explains in more detail. Followed by a panel discussion with representatives of NVBF and FDN led by René Mioch.

Visitors almost back on track

If we want to sum up the year 2022 in one number, of course, it is the total number of visits: as mentioned, 25 million. While that is still 32% below the average level of the three years prior to the pandemic, it is still almost double that of 2021. For 2023, 30 million is the number of visits that Strong and others are looking forward to with high hopes. That it did not reach that level in 2022, by the way, is not very surprising. Recovery takes time.

For starters, the 2022 cinema year actually had only 11 months. The last lockdown was lifted at the end of January, and restrictions were still in place in February. Thereby, research has shown that after the lifting of the corona restrictions, many regular moviegoers still found visiting family and friends, and eating out together, slightly more important than storming the movie theatres.

In the process, tickets got a tad more expensive (3%, not too bad actually), there was a lack of big crowd-pleasing product after the summer, Sterk recalls. In December, the World Cup did not help either.

Fortunately, a few weeks before the end of the year came the widely appreciated blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water and the Dutch multicultural comedy The Tattas out. That just gave the year-end a solid push upwards.

Historic ups and downs

To put it all in historical perspective, Sterk shows the graph of cinema attendance over the past 100 years. The 1940s and 1950s were a golden age, with a peak of 90 million visits in 1946. In the 1960s, the dramatic decline came with the introduction of television. When video became popular in the early 1980s, it fell even further to around 15 million around 1990. Then, partly due to investments in digitisation and improvement of theatres, it resumed a slow but steady rise. Up to over 30 million in the pre-corona years.

Cinema attendance last 100 years (photo: Leo Bankersen)Looking at this chart, the corona dip at the end is not that shocking. Very annoying in those two years themselves, but not something that causes the industry to collapse. The panel also notes that investment in venues has continued. Importantly, there will be a wide range of titles next year to cater to all tastes. Business balancing will continue, though, with rising costs for energy and wages, alongside the realisation that you cannot make tickets too expensive.

Strong also sees that the Netherlands is certainly not doing badly internationally. The recovery here is just slightly faster than in other European countries and the United States. The investment in the quality of theatres is paying off, is his conclusion.

Avatar on the attack

Avatar: The Way of Water (image: Walt Disney Company)

Of course, the second thing we want to know is what the top titles are, and we mean in terms of attendance. Number 1 in the overall Top 10 is Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise (1.3 million visits). The only released on 14 December Avatar: The Way of Water is already in fourth place with 0.9 million visits by the end of 2022, and this fantasy epic is expected to soon surpass the number 1 in 2022. Internationally, too, James Cameron's sequel to his earlier Avatar (2009) already set one record after another.

Sequel films

By the way, a look at the Top 10 reveals that, like the new Avatar, those other high-scoring titles are all sequels. The only exception is Ticket to Paradise (eighth place). This one apparently had enough of the names of Julia Roberts and George Clooney to lure audiences. Strong calls this penchant for the security of a sequel to previous success a striking development. I myself would add that we have also seen this trend emerge before.

Top 10's share of total visits has increased. We are becoming more dependent on sequels. That may give certainty, but it is not conducive to a wide and diverse offer, which many people like to see anyway.

The Tattas and Knor

Dutch films attracted over 4 million visits in 2022, yielding a market share of 16%. Certainly not bad. Clearly better than the 11-12 per cent in the pre-Corona years, though still well below the peak of over 20 per cent in 2013 and before. But then again, those were the years of Gooische Vrouwen. Interestingly, Dutch market share briefly peaked at 21 and 22 per cent in the corona years. The major US studios then postponed most blockbusters, which widened the space for Dutch product.

Soof 3 is io first place in the Dutch Top 10 in 2022, which, incidentally, also consists largely of sequels. But The Tattas (already at number 7 in a fortnight) is not a sequel. So it can be done, scoring with original work. This is also doubly proven by the success of Mascha Halberstad's already much vaunted stop-motion animation Knor (at 6 in the Dutch top ten). Also for Knor - The Dutch Oscar entry long animation - applause!

And speaking of Knor have - I am now taking a side-step that was not discussed at the presentation - it even came out as the best Dutch film by a wide margin in a recent poll of Dutch film journalists. In the same poll Everything Everywhere All at Once as the best international title. With a minuscule difference from number two: Drive My Car, a subdued Japanese drama that was remarkably the complete opposite of the rambunctious #1 in terms of style and approach. Neither title can be found in the visitors' Top 10.

But back to the presentation, which nevertheless mainly represents the economic perspective.


Finally, Sterk and the panellists (Kassandra Dommisse and Jacques Hoendervangers for NVBF, Huub Roelvink and Claire Vogelenzang for FDN) cast a glance at 2023. They hope for a year with a multifaceted offering, a rising Dutch market share to perhaps 20%, and total visits that should be able to reach 30 million again anyway. Cost increases will be a bigger challenge in this than competing with the big streamers. Furthermore, by 2023, computer animation The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be the big hit. Possibly assisted by the feature film Barbie. The latter could well be a surprise, because with Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach as creators, it is undoubtedly a quarter-turn different from what you would expect given the title.

Silver Rose and Rose

A good custom is for the New Year presentation to end with the presentation of the Jan Nijland Silver Rose to someone of great significance to the Dutch cinema world. Jos Stelling, filmmaker, operator and one of the driving forces behind the Netherlands Film Festival, among others, is the lucky one this time. Indeed someone with already such a long and solid reputation that it is especially special that he is only now receiving the award.

There is also the Silver Rose, the encouragement prize. This year, that goes to João Carlos Rodrigues and Alexa Rodrigues, initiators - and so much more - of Shortcutz Amsterdam. Eleven years ago, they came to the Netherlands as filmmakers. They saw that something was missing and started this stage where new makers can present themselves with their short films.

Overall Top 10

  1. Top Gun: Maverick
  2. Minions: How Gru Became Supervillain
  3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  4. Avatar: The Way of Water
  5. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
  6. Jurassic World: Dominion
  7. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  8. Ticket to Paradise
  9. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  10. Thor: Love and Thunder

Top 10 Dutch films

  1. Soof 3
  2. Bon Bini Holland 3
  3. Costa!!!
  4. The Great Sinterklaas: Pissing in the Toy Vault
  5. The Greatest Slime Film
  6. The Club of St Nicholas and the Race against the Clock
  7. The Tattas
  8. The Bellingas: House on stilts
  9. The Pirates from Next Door: The Ninjas on the Other Side
  10. Moroccan Wedding

More detailed figures and film attendance can be found on the website of Film distributors in the Netherlands.

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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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