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INDUSTRY France

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A cold snap for French films on the international scene

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- With 34 million admissions in foreign theatres in 2016, French cinema dipped to its lowest levels in more than 10 years

A cold snap for French films on the international scene
The Little Prince by Mark Osborne

You miss the boat and suddenly all is lost! In the absence of titles garnering huge success in foreign countries (like Untouchable [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, Lucy [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
and Taken [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
in recent years), admissions for French films abroad fell notably in 2016, according to the provisional report released by UniFrance at the 19th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris, which comes to a close today. With 34 million admissions (€230 million in receipts), 2016 was the first year that French film has generated fewer than 50 million admissions abroad in over 10 years, a dramatic drop from the 111 million admissions it saw in 2015. A significant decrease due above all to a fall in the number of big box-office hits, with only five French films surpassing the million admissions abroad mark in 2016 compared to 10 in the previous year, with the admissions for these top five films making up only 28.3% of overall admissions to French films in foreign theatres compared to 70.5% in 2015. The weight of success of previous box-office hits in the world of French English-language productions has also been emphasised by their absence in 2016. Indeed, French-language films were responsible for 22 million admissions abroad in 2016, almost 64% of total admissions, the highest proportion in over 15 years and far superior to the average 43.6% recorded over the last 10 years.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Branded as a "weak year", 2016 is nonetheless not seen as a cause for concern by executives at UniFrance, who pointed out that a significant number of French films continue to be released around the world (540 feature films were shown in theatres abroad last year, 8% fewer than in 2015), the dynamism of French international sellers, France’s well-established place as a leader in the world of independent film, the potential for 2017 (most notably with Valerian [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Luc Besson, which is expected to rake in admissions from far and wide), and the diversity of genres in the Top 10 of 2016: animation (The Little Prince [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, in first place with 3.1 admissions), documentary (Seasons [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), English-language thrillers (Oppression), comedy (Up for Love [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Les Nouvelles Aventures d'Aladin [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, L'Etudiante et Monsieur Henri
 [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), romantic comedy (The Sense of Wonders [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), and drama (Chocolat [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, Mustang [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
film profile
]
, Elle [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
). Nonetheless, it’s a fair bet that certain strategic choices in the support given to the international promotion of some films or genres over others will be reassessed (or at least analysed in depth).

Turning to the geographical spread of admissions for French films internationally, Western Europe became the biggest market in 2016 with almost 50% of admissions, ahead of North America, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia. And although the United States was once again the biggest importer of French films in 2016, countries in which French film has traditionally sold very well are making a strong comeback, with Italy, Germany, Spain and Belgium showing high levels of admissions. On the other hand, there’s still a long way to go to conquer the land of milk and honey that is China, with admissions for French films falling from 14 million to 1 million in just one year.

(Translated from French)

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