2008 was a landmark year for French films, with 86 million admissions in France (a 46% market share), a host of successful titles, surprise hits, and, above all, three historic events.
Seen by over 20 million spectators, Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks) by Dany Boon has smashed admission records for a homegrown film in France, a record held since 1966 by La Grande Vadrouille (Don't Look Now - We're Being Shot At) by Gérard Oury. The hit comedy has even come close to breaking the all-time record held by Titanic.
The 2008 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d'Or was awarded to Entre les murs (The Class), a fine reminder of the ongoing vitality and diversity of France’s cultural resources. A screen adaptation of the novel of the same title by François Bégaudeau, this film, which was shot on a low budget of €2.8 million with a cast of non-professional actors, will represent France at the upcoming Academy Awards. The afterglow of the Palme d’Or award has also boosted admissions to the film, currently posting 1.6 million spectators.
Marion Cotillard’s Academy Award triumph (after winning a Cesar Award and a Golden Globe) for her role as Edith Piaf in La Môme (La Vie en Rose), directed by Olivier Dahan, has brought a French touch with fresh glamour to Hollywood. Prior to Marion Cotillard, the only French stars to have won the prestigious Best Actress award were Simone Signoret and Claudette Colbert.
Asterix at the Olympic Games was one of the most eagerly-awaited films of the year. It attracted “just” 6.8 million moviegoers (compared to 9 million for Asterix and Obelix versus Caesar and 14 million for Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra). Other semi-success stories in 2008 include Babylon AD, Faubourg 36 (Paris 36), and Agathe Cléry.
Hot on the heels of Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis and Asterix at the Olympic Games were three French films that also rank among the French Top 15 of 2008: Disco (2.4 million admissions), Enfin veuve (A Widow at Last, 2.2 million), and Mesrine: L'instinct de mort (Public Enemy Number One: Part 1, 2.2 million). The release of the latter film, which recounts the early life of the gangster Jacques Mesrine, was followed three weeks later by the release of Mesrine: L'ennemi public n°1 (Mesrine: Part 2 - Public Enemy n°1), which tracks the gangster’s last days. This second episode pulled in 1.5 million spectators.
Among other successful French titles, we can mention Paris, Le Crime est notre affaire, Transporter 3, Le Premier jour du reste de ta vie (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life), Cash, Deux jours à tuer (Love Me No More), Taken, Parlez-moi de la pluie (Let It Rain), Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I’ve Loved You So Long), Largo Winch, and Vilaine, all of which crossed the 1 million admissions mark.
Surprise hits of the year, the following films registered over 500,000 admissions: Go Fast, La Fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco), Survivre avec les loups (Surviving with Wolves), L'Empreinte de l'ange (Mark of an Angel), Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale), Les Liens du sang (Rivals), and Séraphine.
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