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Box Office - France

Industry Report: Europe and the Rest of the World

French film earns €234 million in foreign cinemas in 2023


The circulation of French films in cinemas abroad continued to regain strength last year, reaching 37.4 million admissions, but the balance has shifted

French film earns €234 million in foreign cinemas in 2023
Ladybug and Cat Noir Awakening, which was a leading title in 2023, attracting 7.15 million international viewers

The situation is continuing to improve, but there is still a small gap to close before the sector reaches its pre-pandemic stride: this is the outcome of the 2023 report on French film abroad, which was unveiled today within the 26th Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris (unspooling from 16-23 January 2024).

French films earned €234 million (provisional figure) in revenue in foreign cinemas last year (that is, 37.4 million admissions), across upwards of 2,800 releases (of which 220 were brand-new films). Despite being a 38.5% rise on the previous year, this result nonetheless represents an 18.5% decrease on 2019. But the changes which have taken place in the global industry with the consolidation of platforms have made comparisons a tricker task, because some works (such as Ladybug and Cat Noir Awakening, which was a leading title in 2023, attracting 7.15 million international viewers) now enjoy mixed circulation (touring cinemas in some regions and available on SVOD in others).

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Another point to take away from this report is that the gap between successful and less favourable results is widening, since the ten most watched French films of the year account for half of all tickets sold (with 7 titles exceeding one million admissions). Nevertheless, the ever-increasing volume of films in circulation showcases the diversity of French film, with 61 feature films winning over at least 100,000 foreign cinephiles. That said, English-language French action films which so improved international admissions to French feature films ten or so years ago have fallen off the radar and similarly impressive performances are yet to be reported, despite the excellent results achieved by animated films (accounting for 1 in 3 international views of French films in foreign cinemas last year).

Of the 37.4 million admissions reported by French films in foreign cinemas last year, majority French productions and French-language titles proved overwhelmingly dominant, attracting 29.7 and 30.1 million viewers respectively. Experimental feature films also regained some of their colour, boasting 14.6 million admissions. In terms of the genre split, animation accounted for 29.5% of the market share, comedies and dramedies 26.5%, dramas 22.8%, adventure films, detective films and thrillers 12.3%, biopics, war films and historical titles 6.1%, fantasy, horror and sci-fi 1.3%, and documentaries also 1.3%.

For the 8th year running, Western Europe reported the highest number of admissions for French films, boasting 45.1% of the market share (or 12.2 million viewers). These admissions grew by 18.6 % in 2023, compared to 2022, but they’re still trailing the 2017-2019 average by 24.3%. Germany remains the most favourable country to French film, with 4.21 million admissions, while another six Western European countries feature in the  top 10 of 2023.

Central and Eastern Europe is the region which witnessed highest growth last year, to the tune of 58.7%, reporting its all-time largest market share for French film (33.8%), with Russia and Poland ranking 1st and 3rd for viewer numbers in 2023 and excellent results also reported in the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.

Asia boasts 6.9% of the market (with a clear recovery reported in China in the form of 1 million admissions – though still a far cry from past results – and success taking shape in Vietnam), followed by Latin America (5.8%, experiencing a spectacular 39% drop in just one year and only marginally better than the situation in Brazil and Costa Rica), the USA/Canada zone (6.1% and rising slightly thanks to Anatomy of a Fall [+see also:
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), Oceania (2.1%) and the Africa and Middle East zone (1.2%).

In just a few years, the balance has totally shifted: Europe accounts for 78.9 % of admissions for French films in foreign cinemas versus an average of 47.7 % between 2010 and 2019. In other words, only 20% or so of French film viewers around the world come from outside of Europe.

It’s important, however, to put these various revelations on the broadcasting of French films in foreign cinemas into perspective with the form’s solid presence on SVOD platforms, where, in 2023, France was the 4th best represented production country, occupying 5.3% of catalogues (behind the USA at 43.9%, India at 7.8% and the UK at 6.7%).

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(Translated from French)

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