French Box Office 2014: Hollywood Films Lose Market Share to Homegrown Hits
Theater attendance was up nearly 8 percent from the previous year
Homegrown hits boosted theater attendance in France, with ticket sales up 7.7 percent in the year-end numbers reported by the National Cinema Center (CNC).
Overall, 208.4 million tickets to theaters were sold in France in 2014, the highest since 2011, which was buoyed by France's biggest global box office success ever, The Intouchables. Last year also handily topped the 10-year average of 196.5 million entries.
Much of the success can be attributed to homegrown films, including the latest French breakout film Serial (Bad) Weddings, which sold 12.3 million tickets and stayed on the box office charts for more than 20 weeks, comedy Supercondriaque and Luc Besson’s global juggernaut Lucy.
The year was off to a strong start, with theatergoing in both January and February up 21 percent over 2013.
While January benefited from residual holiday hits Wolf of Wall Street, released Dec. 25, and the film version of the classic tale Belle et Sebastien, released Dec. 18, and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, released Dec. 11, beloved comedian Dany Boon was a boon to the February box office with the release of his Supercondriaque, which went on to be the second-highest-grossing film in France last year.
The homegrown comedy sequel 3 Brothers, The Return also boosted the box office in the second month.
August was up a staggering 31.5 percent over 2013 on the strength of the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Lucy, released Aug. 6. Lucy went on to become the third-ranked film last year with 5.2 million tickets sold.
June was down 17 percent, with underperformers Transcendence and Edge of Tomorrow dragging down the box office enough that Serial (Bad) Weddings regained the top spot 11 weeks after its release.
With Weddings, Supercondriaque and Lucy taking the top three spots at the box office, as well as other homegrown hits including Belle, 3 Brothers and Jalil Lespert's Yves Saint Laurent biopic being big box office hits through the year, French films took 44 percent of the box office share, the highest level since 1984.
As a result, Hollywood films were down 9 percent from 2013, with American films taking 45 percent of the market share, down from 54 percent last year. Foreign films from other territories were down by 4.7 percent last year in the wake of the latest French wave.
September, November and December all saw declines, even with the releases of hits like Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and the final Hobbit film along with family-friendly French fare like StudioCanal's Paddington and feel-good drama The Blier Family.