French pix are Euro hits

A look at B.O, distrib of foreign films

Despite its reputation among left-leaning Euro intellectuals for having the culture of Bart Simpson, the U.S. distributes far more European films than most European countries do from their neighbors.

The only Euro country that releases more is Italy.

And what’s the definition of a good European film when measured by B.O.? If you’re talking about a foreign-language film that travels beyond its borders, it will probably be produced or distributed by a French company.

Of European films in the Official Selections at the Berlin, Cannes and Venice film fests between 2002 and 2005, plus Toronto over the last two years, French pics grossed $195.2 million outside France.

That compares to $75.3 million in international gross for German films in the same Official Selections, $48.8 million for Spanish movies and just $8.6 million for Italian pics.

This has to be qualified. A lot of European films open in the U.S. but relatively few people see them, especially if they’re in a foreign language.

Of the films at the same fests, the Stateside B.O. of the non English-language films was just 15.3% of the total gross $443.8 million of the European films in Official Selections at the same events.

These statistics are part of the background research released at Cannes by the Think Tank on European Film and Film Policy. The Think Tank will take place June 21-24 in Copenhagen.

“The aim is not to question the level of subsidy in Europe but to consider how that subsidy can be spent with more effect,” said Henning Camre director of the Danish Film Institute and the creator of the Think Tank, which is backed by the DFI, the Nordic Film and Television Fund, and the City of Copenhagen and supported by all the national film institutes around Europe.

Henning is widely credited as the architect of the success of Danish films, which outperform many larger countries’ pics internationally and in domestic market share.

Eleven Danish films played at the film festivals in the Think Tank analysis, a healthy figure for a small country when compared to 15 Spanish films, 29 Italian pics, 30 German movies and 95 French pics.

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