French-Canadian films dip to 5.2% market share in province

MONTREAL

It was a terrible summer at the box office for French-Canadian film, with the market share for local films in Quebec dipping to 5.2% of all ticket sales from 10.5% last summer.

Only one made-in-Quebec pic has made more than $1 million so far this year, scribe Luc Dionne’s Mafia drama “Omerta.” The spinoff from a popular TV series tallied $2.7 million, but that was well down on the usual three or four local pics that perform well.

Pascale Dube from Montreal-based B.O. tracking firm Cineac blames the big-time dip on poor movies. “There weren’t many films, they weren’t very popular, and they didn’t open on that many screens. And it hasn’t been good since the beginning of the year,” Dube said.

Last year, Quebec film ended the year with a 9.9% market share, but that is simply out of the question for 2012, said Dube, adding, “In the post-mortem at the end of the year, there will be questions to be asked.”

The drop is even more dramatic when you look back at past summers. In summer 2009, French-Canadian films nabbed 17.8% of sales action, and in the record-breaking summer of 2005, the homegrown market share was 21.7%.

Underperformers included young hotshot helmer Xavier Dolan’s Toronto Film Festival prize winner “Laurence Anyways,” which rang up just over $400,000, and Manon Briand’s “Liverpool,” which earned $118,000.

Locals are staying away from theaters just as Quebec cinema is garnering acclaim on the international stage, with previous Oscar nominations for “Incendies” and “Monsieur Lazhar” and high-profile fest berths for “Camion,” “Laurence Anyways” and “Inch’Allah.” But fest films tend to be darker and artier than the more commercial pics, particularly comedies, that do well at the Quebec box office.

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