Viewing of foreign-language pics on the up

Brit cinemagoers are displaying an increasing appetite for foreign-language fare, according to a U.K. Film Council report released Friday.

Since the Film Council introduced lottery funding to support the distribution of foreign-language and specialized film in 2003, 26 foreign-language pics have passed the £1 million ($2 million) mark in the territory.

In comparison, only seven films grossed $2 million or more in the previous three years (2000-03).

The top foreign-language earners list is led by Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” Mandarin-language actioner “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Audrey Tautou starrer “Amelie,” which cumed $22 million, $18.6 million and $9.9 million, respectively.

Next best is another Gibson pic — Mayan epic “Apocalypto” — which banked $8.1 million in Blighty. Rounding out the top five is “Hero” with $7.6 million.

Hindi-language cinema accounts for six of the top 20 earners with “Kabhi khushi kabhie gham” ($5 million).

Recent foreign-language hits include Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en rose” and Gallic actioner “Tell No One,” which have both cumed more than $2 million. Both worked as effective counterprogramming to the summer popcorn movies.

The U.K. Film Council’s 240-screen digital screen network has helped bring a broader range of film to U.K. auds.

Of the 26 foreign language films to top $2 million, the U.K. Film Council has supported 15 in gaining a wider U.K. release.

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