Telefilm Canada's Quebec Films Raise Canadian Box Office Tally

Domestic and international sales of French-language titles like "Starbuck," "Incendies" and "Monsieur Lazhar" goose 2011 returns for the federal government's movie portfolio.

TORONTO – The Canadian government’s film financier secured a box office boost for its films last year, on the strength of Quebec titles like Starbuck, Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar performing at home and overseas for distributors.

Telefilm Canada unveiled a so-called success index that saw domestic box office receipts for its film investment portfolio rising 11.6 percent in 2011, from $24.6 million to $27.5 million.

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And international sales of Telefilm Canada-backed films by distributors, which includes pay TV, DVD and video-on-demand, rose from a year-earlier $22 million to $51 million, as titles, many Canadian-international co-productions like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Barney’s Version, Incendies and Splice, continued to secure ancillary revenue well after initial theatrical releases.

The latest tally from Telefilm Canada is more a report card on its investment portfolio than a measure of success for the Canadian film industry as a whole.

But as the biggest film financier in Canada, how Telefilm Canada titles fare at home and overseas, in theaters and beyond, is seen as a key indicator of the commercial and cultural health of the domestic film industry.

The federal agency’s success index also takes into account film festival trophies and international sales to measure how homegrown movies perform as they face stiff competition from popular Hollywood movies at the local multiplex.

And the industry yardstick also reflects how Oscar-nominated French-language movies like Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies and Phillippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar remain banner-carriers for the Canadian film industry.

It also comes as Telefilm Canada continues to promote Canadian film and TV producers looking to pact with international partners on more official co-productions, even including more Hollywood actors, to boost their box office appeal.

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