Gallic B.O., tix sales drop

Absence of blockbusters hurts industry

PARIS — French box office figures for last month slumped 21% compared with June 2002 while ticket sales for the first half of 2003 were down 9.3%, according to figures published Tuesday.

Of some 87.8 million tickets sold 47.1% went to U.S. movies, fractionally down on 2002’s 47.4%. French pics market share stood at 42.3%, also a slight dip on last year’s 42.9%.

The figures released by the Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC), France’s National Cinema Center, confirm industry fears that 2003 is shaping up to be a lean year at the box office.

The absence of Gallic blockbusters like last year’s “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra” or “Taxi 3” has contributed to the slump, say exhibitors, while transport strikes and a heat wave kept people out of theaters in June.

“We think this decline has a lot to do with the paucity of films on offer, but we are still analyzing the reasons,” a spokesman for France’s National Exhibitors Federation told Daily Variety Tuesday.

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