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Studies & Market Reports

17 November 2017 à 10:17

2016 Report on the Performance of French Films Abroad

In 2016, French films registered 40.7 million spectators and generated €257.5 million in theaters outside France. After the excellent results of 2015, in which attendance figures abroad exceeded 111 million admissions, results in 2016 show a significant downturn, falling to the lowest level in over ten years.

This sharp decline in movie attendance abroad in 2016 was mainly due to the absence of blockbusters in the likes of Taken 3 (44 million admissions in 2015). While the number of films released was equivalent to average figures for previous years, only two French-majority productions (The Little Prince and Shut In) crossed the 1 million spectators threshold, compared with nine in 2015.

As a direct result of the lack of major hits, the spread of admissions across titles released fell to its lowest point since the 2000s: the five most successful French titles in 2016 accounted for just 24.6% of admissions abroad, versus 70.4% in 2015. Another important consequence was that French-language productions took a higher share of admissions, pulling in 26.8 million spectators and accounting for 66% of all admissions—the highest figure in over fifteen years, well above the average of 44.8% over the past ten years.

This dispersion of results reveals some local successes and spotlights a number of French-language films in the annual ranking, such as the excellent performance in Germany by the surprise hits A Sense of Wonder and The Student and Mr. Henri, both of which figure among the year's Top 10 titles. It also accounts for the remarkable endurance of the already record-breaking title The Little Prince, which, after garnering over 15 million admissions in 2015, continued to win over audiences beyond French borders in its second year of exhibition. With more than 3 million additional ticket sales from around forty markets, The Little Prince was the biggest French success of 2016 and the animated film that attracted the largest audiences abroad.

The Little Prince leads the pack for the second consecutive year

The remaining films in the Top 10 demonstrate, once again, the success brought by the diversity of French productions in international markets. The English-language thriller Shut In, the year's second most successful French film, and the documentary Seasons (which ranks in 7th place), illustrate the vitality of French genre films abroad.* French comedies also played an important role in 2016, with strong performances from The New Adventures of Aladdin and Up for Love. The Top 10 is completed by Mustang, Monsieur Chocolat, and Elle, which bear witness to the popularity of the drama genre.

Finally, despite a lackluster year overall in 2016, audience interest in French cinema is by no means waning, with two events devoted to French films setting new attendance records: the 20th Tour de Cine Francés in Mexico (410,000 spectators, +28% against 2015) and the 27th Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia (168,000 admissions). In addition, more than ten French-majority productions registered more admissions abroad than in the home market, including A Sense of Wonder, Macadam Stories, Francofonia, and Mustang. This downturn in 2016 therefore in no way casts doubt on the central role occupied by French cinema on the international stage.

*See the UniFrance study: "Les genres du cinéma français qui s’exportent le mieux"

Downloadable documents
Free access: Report Summary
Reserved for UniFrance members: Full Report (including box office results, TV broadcasts, export information for feature films and short films)

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Author : Marie Besançon

Latest update : 23 October 2019 à 10:17 CEST

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