France set to smash B.O. records

Gallic pics drive admissions surge

France, one of Europe’s biggest film markets, is on track to smash box-office revenue records in 2011, for the third year running.

Total B.O. through November reached 191.3 million admissions — about €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) in grosses — 2% up on 2010’s first 11 months, France’s CNC film board estimates.

Distribbed by Gaumont, Gallic comedy “Intouchables” has sustained traction in November, notching up a phenomenal $110.1 million through Dec. 13.

Along with Studiocanal comedy “Hollywood” and “Puss in Boots,” B.O. in the first two weeks of December was 20% above the same period last year.

“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” bowed last Wednesday to a promising first-day $946,557. Another feel-good French comedy, “La Delicatesse,” starring Audrey Tautou, opens this Wednesday.

These should take French B.O. significantly past 2010’s total trawl of 206.5 million tix, the highest sales since 1967, earning around $1.8 billion in total grosses, an all-time high for Gaul.

After a poor first quarter, locally-made movies drove Gaul’s B.O. rally (Variety, Nov. 10), nabbing a 40% market share through November.

French cinema has benefitted from a variety of films in 2011, including Golden Globe nommed “The Artist,” an arthouse title, which has enjoyed commercial success.

(Elsa Keslassy in Paris contributed to this report.)

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