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French Films Fail to Capture Foreign Audiences in 2016

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Ticket sales for French films shown abroad took a steep downturn in the 2016 calendar year. From top to bottom, everyone has scrambled to make sense of the steep decline in tickets sold from 2015 to 2016. In particular, the Asian continent was a place where French films under-performed the most from the previous year. All told, French films sold 34 million tickets abroad last year, which is worrisome when compared to 2015, when 111.4 million were sold. Though 2015, it must be said, was a record year for the French film industry abroad, nevertheless, insiders are left to wonder.

Aberration or Worry?

Though 2015 was a record year, the previous year’s total represents a ten-year low in sales. In spite of the meager-looking ledger, the sun has not set on the French film industry. As noted in an article appearing on Yahoo made note about the 2016 calendar year:

“French movies lacked a hit comedy as well as a stand-out “film d’auteur”—the arthouse movies that traditionally are a French strength.”

Isabelle Giordano, chief executive of Unifrance, the chief promoter of French cinema abroad stressed that the industry would need to become less dependent on mega producer, Luc Besson, to save their collective financial bacon.

Desire Pathe Films
Desire Pathe Films

In Rides Luc Besson

Still, the real question is whether last year’s downturn was an aberration or a sign of things to come. As Variety online notes:

 ” For decades, France has been one of the world’s major movie export powers, after the U.S. In the short-term, 2016’s international performance is likely to be reversed and then some by the worldwide roll-out of the Luc Besson-directed “Valerian” and the City of the Thousand Planets,” hailed as the most expensive independent title of all time, which bows July 14, 2017 in France.”

All told, Western Europe remained the #1 market for French films abroad. Accounting for nearly half of ticket sales abroad, it remained France’s most solid performer.

Vive le cinéma français? For many, that is the fervent hope.

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