French films beat U.S. fare at home

Local pics take 44.7% share

PARIS — For the first time in 20 years, audience attendance in France last year was higher for Gallic films than for Hollywood product.

The Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC) announced in Cannes that French films drew ticket sales last year of some 84.29 million vs. about 83.33 million for American movies.

Box office share for French films last year was 44.7% — its highest level since 1984. Hollywood offerings stood at 44.2%.

“There is undeniably strong public support for what French cinema now has to offer,” CNC director general Veronique Cayla said at a Cannes press conference.

She emphasized the support given by the CNC to “the most fragile” films and the positive effects of the org’s “redistributive policies” in terms of selective funding.

France has the highest cinema attendance average in the European Union, at 3.2 entries per person per year, compared with an average of 2.8 in Spain, 2.6 in the U.K., 1.8 in Italy and 1.7 in Germany.

Last year, 34.8 million French moviegoers went to the cinema an average of 5.4 times, the highest average in 15 years, with nearly 1.6 million more filmgoers than in 2005.

Top Gallic pics in 2006 were comedy “Les Bronzes 3 — Amis pour la vie,” Luc Besson’s kidpic “Arthur et les Minimoys” and “Camping,” another broad laffer.

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