'Sticks,' 'Asterix' powers French share

MADRID — Box office in France is up 11.5% this year, with 89.95 million tix sold through May, despite a 23.2% drop in admissions last month, year-on-year.

Powering that rise — and a remarkable 59% market share for French films in the first five months of the year — is “Welcome to the Sticks” (20.2 million) and “Asterix at the Olympic Games” (6.8 million).

At 33.6%, U.S. pic share is 9.4% down on last year. June results for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which attracted 3.23 million admissions through June 10, and “Sex and the City,” with 1.26 million so far, should power up U.S. share for the half year.

French B.O. will take a battering this month from the European Cup soccer championship, but not enough to stop it ending the first half of the year substantially up on last year.

But, beyond piracy, one factor might take the shine off the stellar results: French cinema auds are ageing.

Cinemagoing is losing its allure for the young. Among 20-24 year olds, the number of avid filmgoers — those who attend at least once a month — has plunged from 53% in 2000 to 37.2% last year, according to the latest Mediametrie film study, “75,000 Cinema.”

Mediametrie blames Internet usage and vidgames for the change. Among 15-24 year olds, 53.7% went online at least once a day in 2007, 12.3% up on 2006.

Meanwhile, senior citizens are stepping up their cinemagoing. Half of all 50-59 year olds went to the cinema at least once in the last 12 months, compared with 45.1% in 2000. For the over 60s, that number rose from 28.3% to 39.8% in the same period.

“These spectators served their cinema apprenticeship when it dominated their cultural leisure choices,” reported Mediametrie. “The new technologies have had a different impact on the lives of mature demos (compared with younger demos). Films seem more adapted to their tastes,” the report suggested.

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