French Cinema Suffers Foreign Sales Slump


PARIS -- A strong performance abroad from Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud's French-language undersea documentary Oceans wasn't enough to save French cinema from drowning at the box office abroad with a 17.9 percent dip in ticket sales internationally in 2010, French film promotion organization Unifrance said Thursday.

Ticket sales abroad dropped to 57.2 million, down from 67.2 million in 2009. French-language titles from the territory, however, proved popular with a 11percent jump in ticket sales.

Unifrance blames the lack of English-language global hits like last year's thriller Taken for the global drop in sales abroad. However, French-language titles represented more than half of total ticket sales for the year for the first time since 2005.

U.S. filmgoers enjoyed practicing their French last year as French-language fare saw a 36 percent rise in ticket sales stateside thanks to the success of Oceans with 2.6 million tickets sold and Jacques Audiard's A Prophet with 280,000 tickets sold.

Roman Polanski's English-language film The Ghost Writer, was the most popular film made in France at the international box office last year with 6.6 million tickets sold abroad, followed by Pierre Morel's From Paris With Love with slightly under 6.57 million.

Luc Besson's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Radu Mihaileanu's The Concert and kids' films Little Nickand Arthur and the Vengeance of Malthazar were also among popular titles.

Italian filmgoers showed a huge appetite for Gallic fare last year with a 142 percent jump in ticket sales for French films in that territory and French cinema was also strong in Japan with a 25 percent increase in box office and in Russia with a 41 percent jump in ticket sales.

Germany, however, saw a 30 percent drop in popularity for French films and Chinese filmgoers saw 43 percent less French films last year.

Unifrance's annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema kicks off Thursday Jan. 13 in Paris with 80 films up for grabs from distributors at the market.

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