Gaul tix sales hits record high

French pix gross $150 mil in U.S.

In a first for French cinema, foreign tickets sales for Gallic films surpassed domestic in 2005 and French films achieved their best scores on record in the U.S., grossing $150 million.

Warner Independent’s “The March of the Penguins” grossed $75 million worldwide, and a large portion of that was from the U.S., making it France’s highest-grossing pic ever Stateside, according to Gallic Film promotional body Unifrance.

Some 73.6 million cinemagoers around the world saw French films in 2005, up 49%, compared with 64.8 million in France.

Foreign and domestic box office receipts were both around $437 million.

As well as the “Penguin” effect, the year’s figures were also boosted by the perf of French-produced English-language pics “The Transporter 2” and “Danny the Dog,” both produced by Luc Besson, and “High Tension.”

Some were among the seven French films that achieved better results abroad than at home.

“The March of the Penguins” notched up 16.2 million foreign ticket sales compared with 1.8 million in France, while “Transporter 2” garnered 11 million ad-missions abroad, compared with 1.2 million in France.

Unifrance published the stats during its four-day Rendezvous With French Cinema film mart. Event saw some 360 buyers from around the world descend on Paris to view 75 new French films and keep abreast of new projects.

Despite perennial complaints that indie film financing remains tough, the number of French films and co-productions rose to 240 in 2005. There are also nu-merous small international sales outfits in business as producers bid to cash in on the healthy market for French pics.

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