In like a lion: Big March at French b.o.

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PARIS -- French exhibitors saw 17.7 million walk through their turnstiles in March, an 18.4% jump in ticket sales from March 2006, according to estimates Tuesday from national film body the CNC.

About 52.1 million tickets were sold during the first three months of the year, for a total of 188.9 million admissions over the last 12 months, 3.8% better than the previous 12-month period.

Despite a 15.7% drop in February ticket sales, the flood of filmgoers back to theaters in March helped generate a 0.4% rise in total admissions from the first trimester last year.

Homegrown fare is all the rage in Gaul, with French films amassing a whopping 58.4% market share, versus just 50.2% during the same period in 2006.

U.S. films represented only 34.8% of the market, down from 38.6% last year. Films from other countries took a promising 9.9% market share, up from 6.7% in 2006.
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