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Studies & Market Reports

25 June 2014 à 13:52

Study on French documentaries abroad (2004-2013)

UniFrance Films has released a report on results for French documentary films abroad over a 10-year period. The study was undertaken at the request of the CNC as part of the "Sunny Side of the Doc" documentary film market held in La Rochelle.

• 86 French documentary films were released in foreign theaters between 2004 and 2013 (of which 76 were majority French productions). By including re-releases of titles distributed before 2004, 90 French documentary films were released during this period. These works represent 4.9% of French films' overall admissions between 2004 and 2013, being 34.6 million admissions. A proportion that, to date, reached a high of 30.1% in 2005 abroad, thanks to the success of The Emperor's Journey.

• Since 2004, the 2 most successful French documentaries abroad were The Emperor's Journey (20 million admissions in 45 territories) and Oceans (7.7 million admissions in 35 territories).

• 4 French documentaries, (of which 3 majority French productions) registered more than 1 million admissions in international theaters between 2004 and 2013, being 4.4% of French documentaries released abroad.

• The concentration of French documentary film admissions abroad was very high: the 3 leading films accumulated 84.9% of all total admissions of the 90 films released, of which more than half (57.7%) were for The Emperor's Journey alone. This proportion reached 94.2% for the 10 top films.

• Less than 1 documentary out of 5 released in France has an international career: between 2004 and 2013, 460 French documentaries were released domestically, compared with 86 released internationally, being 18.7%.

• On the other hand, French documentaries distributed in France and abroad registered, on average, more than 2/3 of their admissions overseas (71.1%). 86 documentary films attracted 34.2 million spectators abroad compared with 13.9 million admissions in France for these same titles. If we exclude the figures for The Emperor's Journey and Oceans, this ratio passes from 41.5% for admissions registered abroad by French documentaries.

• The USA (and English-speaking Canada) represent, by far, the no. 1 export territory for French documentaries in terms of number of admissions. With 17.2 million spectators counted for 26 films between 2004 and 2013 (of which 12.8 million for The Emperor's Journey and 2.6 million for Oceans), this territory alone represents half the admissions for this genre worldwide.

Japan and Germany are also territories particularly favorable to French documentaries, with thirty documentaries released in each of these territories between 2004 and 2013.

• Several documentaries achieved remarkable performances in certain territories, such as  Babies (963,000 admissions in the United States, 109,000 in Germany), The White Planet (38,000 admissions in Canada, 22,000 in North Korea), La Danse, The Paris Opera Ballet (81,000 admissions in Japan), and more recently On the Way to School (106,000 admissions in Italy).

The attached PDF contains two charts with the major figures relating to French documentary distribution abroad: Top 10 French Documentary Films at the International Box Office, 2004-2013 and Top 10 Sales Territories for French Documentary Films at the International Box Office, 2004-2013.

Author : Grégory Alexandre

Latest update : 26 May 2015 à 13:52 CEST


Linked to this news article

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CNC - Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée

Activities :  Executive Producer

Activities external to film production :  Organization, Unifrance Partner

Recent filmography :



Activities :  Executive Producer

Activities external to film production :  Cultural/professional organization

Recent filmography : Jean-Paul Belmondo, 4 X D

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Sunny Side of the Doc - 2014

Type : Programme

Theme : Documentary

Geographic areas (8)