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French films on pace for record year

Gallic pics doing socko international box office

Global admissions outside France for Gallic pics are tracking ahead of 2008’s record year, according to pic promo org Unifrance.

Ticket sales by mid-July stood at 43 million, 18% from the same period last year. French films sold 84.5 million tickets in 2008, the best result since Unifrance began to tally overseas results in 1994.

The top five earners list is led by helmer Pierre Morel’s English-language blockbuster “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson as a former CIA agent hunting for his daughter. Pic has sold 21.6 million tix outside of France, including 20.7 million in the U.S.

Second is Jason Statham starrer “Transporter 3,” helmed by Olivier Megaton, which has 6.7 million admissions outside France so far. Both are produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp.

Of the French-lingo pics, helmer Dany Boon’s “Welcome to the Sticks” continues to do good business, selling 1.4 million tix on top of the 4.2 million it sold last year. It ties for third spot in the top five with director Laurent Cantet’s Cannes 2008 Palme d’Or winner “The Class” (1.4 million).

However, recently released Audrey Tautou starrer “Coco Before Chanel” could overtake them both as it continues its rollout.

Directed by Anne Fontaine, “Chanel” focuses on designer Coco Chanel’s impoverished early life. Pic has sold just over 1 million ducats outside France through July 12.

Sold by Films Distribution, and produced by Haut & Court, Cine and Warner Bros. Entertainment France, “Chanel” has yet to bow in major territories including the U.K. (via Optimum Releasing) and Germany (via Warner Bros.).

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