French titles abroad see ticket sales slip in 2007

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PARIS -- Life wasn't as rosy for French cinema abroad in 2007 as it was the previous year, with admissions for French films in other countries dropping from 56 million to 53.7 million tickets and boxoffice revenue falling from more than 300 million euros ($440.5 million) to 252 million euros ($370 million), according to preliminary estimates from state-run film promotion organization Unifrance.

Unifrance hopes that final boxoffice totals will reach 57 million admissions and 270 million euros ($396.5 million) in income, the organization said Thursday at a press conference in Paris.

French films released worldwide in 2007 number 292, compared to 298 in 2006. Europe remains the primary distributor of Gallic titles with 61% of total ticket sales coming from the continent. Germany, Spain, Italy and the U.K. sold 15.3 million tickets for French films last year, Unifrance said.

Gallic titles are all the rage in Russia with 7.3 million tickets sold, trumping even the U.S's 6.8 million admissions and making the Eastern European country the top territory for French films in 2007.

Boxoffice revenue reached 30.5 million euros ($44.8 million) stateside compared with 22.2 million euros ($32.6 million) in Russia.

All of the English-speaking export markets -- U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand -- showed their amour for French cinema with 11 million tickets sold.

It was an "excellent year" for French cinema in the English speaking territories, according to Unifrance president Margaret Menegoz.

"This proves that the recent headline of Time Magazine, 'The Death of French Culture,' isn't true in regards to cinema," she said.

Edith Piaf epic "La Vie en Rose" has been singing its way through U.S. theaters (1.3 million tickets sold and over $10 million in boxoffice revenue), and Marion Cotillard's performance has been making noise as the 2008 awards season gets underway.

France's Oscar nominee in the foreign film category, "Persepolis," along with Golden Globe nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" also have been creating buzz in both the U.K. and the U.S.

South American tickets sales jumped 30%, to 3.7 million admissions. Asia, however, continues to be a difficult territory for French movies. China sold just 1.4 million tickets and Japan a mere 1.2 million.

Luc Besson's children's adventure "Arthur and the Minimoys" sold more than 9 million tickets worldwide, and took in 42.3 million euros ($62.1 million) at the global boxoffice.

Edith Piaf epic "La Vie en Rose" sold 4.5 million tickets and made over 25 million euros ($36.7 million). "Taxi 4" followed close behind hailing 4.2 million admissions and 17.3 million euros ($25.4 million).
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