Gallic film auds on rise

PARIS — After a disappointing first quarter, movie attendance is up 3% in France for the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, according to the French Film Federation .

Spurred on by Gallic blockbusters “The Fifth Element” and “La Verite si je mens,” 37.6 million ducats were sold in this year’s second quarter, more than the 33 million sold in the same period in 1996.

The two films also mark the first time French product is responsible for such a high market share at nearly 40%.

Not limited to the cities, theaters nationwide report amplified turnout and are expected to continue out-performing last year’s numbers. The release last week of “Men in Black” has already broken existing records for one-day ticket sales, with several U.S. summer hits yet to bow here.

Still to come are “Con Air,” “Air Force One,” “Conspiracy Theory” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

While the French Film Federation “regrets the lack of art and alternative films on the screen this summer,” they can content themselves with a projection of 140 million tickets to be sold by the end of the year, making it the most profitable year in the past decade.

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