But French 'Intouchable,' English-lingo 'Goon' make hay

MONTREAL– It was a strange year at the domestic box office in Quebec. The market share for local films was the worst in more than a decade, while U.S. films upticked slightly to a 79% share, and French films leapt to 6% of the market from 3.4% in 2011, powered by worldwide hit “The Intouchables,” which made just under $3 million in the province.

Perhaps even stranger, an English-language Canadian film, hockey comedy “Goon,” which skated to $1.5 million in Quebec, outperformed all but one French-language local film. “Goon” singlehandedly raised the share of English-lingo pics in the province to a 1.5% share, from 0.2% in 2011.

Overall ticket sales in the region remained roughly the same as the year earlier, with total gross remaining at $202 million. But the overall share of French-Canadian films in Quebec dropped to 4.8% of total ticket sales in 2012 from 9.9% in 2011. That’s the lowest market share for local films since 2000.

“It’s not a dip for cinema in general,” says Pascale Dube, executive director at Montreal-based box office tracking firm Cineac. “I think the explanation is that the (local films were) weak.”

Quebec movies had been booming on home turf for the past decade, hitting a peak of 18.2% of all sales in 2005, and generally settling in at around the 10% mark. But all local films underperformed in 2012.

The No. 1 earner was the Mafia drama “Omerta,” which earned a disappointing $2.7 million. The pic is based on the hit Radio-Canada TV series of the same name. In second was hockey pic “Les Pee-Wee 3D,” which has so far scored $1.3 million in Quebec and is still playing.

Other pics were bigger flops. The much-anticipated true-crime drama “L’Affaire Dumont,” starring hot thesp Marc-Andre Grondin, had a soft launch, grossing only $468,000. Perhaps the year’s biggest bust, however, was the broad-appeal comedy “L’Empire Bosse,” toplining popular TV host Guy A. Lepage, which made a paltry $158,000 despite getting a wide release. It finished in the bottom of the local top 10 for the year.

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