French Film Exports Reach 10-Year Record

'Intouchables,' 'Taken 2' and 'The Artist' sold a combined 45 million theater admissions

Powered by Gaumont’s “The Intouchables” (pictured above), EuropaCorp’s “Taken 2″ and Wild Bunch’s Oscar-winning “The Artist,” French film sales scored €211.3 million  ($282.2 million)  in 2012, a 34.9% year-on hike and a 10-year record.

Figures were compiled by the National Film Board (CNC), in collaboration with the ADEF (Assn. of French Sales Agents) and IFCIC.

While film sales surged, the overseas box office of French pics also skyrocketed by 93.8% to 144.1 million admissions, of which 70.6% were garnered by the top five movies.

Yet, while “Intouchables” and “The Artist” sold a combined 45 million tickets in 2012, a flurry of other French-language films – notably Wild Bunch’s “Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia,” EuropaCorp’s toon “Monster in Paris” and Les Films du Losange’s “Amour” — sold 20 million theater admissions. “Taken 2,” meanwhile, attracted 47.3 million moviegoers outside France.

Nine pics fared particularly well, selling between half a million and 1 million admissions. These included Pathe’s “Houba! On the Trail of the Marsupilami” and “What’s in a Name,” SND’s “Service Entrance,” Studiocanal’s “La Delicatesse” and Wild Bunch’s “Rust and Bone.”

French sales companies thrived with both homegrown and foreign films in 2012. Indeed, revs from foreign pics sales climbed 17.1% to $118.6 million, while deals on Gallic movies rose 43.1% to $248.4 million.

Sales to North America climbed 35.2% to $80 million, repping 28.6% of worldwide deals.

Western Europe remained the No. 1 territory for French films concentrating 42.8% of 2012’s worldwide sales revenue, rising 36.8% to $121.3 million. Gallic pics proved particularly attractive to Teuton distribs. Sales to Germany increased by 72.3% to $46.3 million. Even in Italy, sales doubled to $12 million in 2012.

Revenue from Central and Eastern Europe rose 40.9% to $30.7 million, while sales to Asia also increased to $20 million, a 27.6% year-rise.

Hitting such a modern high point in 2012, it will be difficult for so many stars to align again in 2013. French sales outfits have been hit by the collapse of Southern European markets and declining minimum guarantees across most international territories.

So far, Gaumont’s tightly budgeted comedy “Paulette,” about a retiree-turned-drug dealer, and Other Angle’s “On the Other Side of the Tracks,” a buddy laffer toplining Omar Sy, are the top two highest-grossing French-language films released overseas in 2013.

This year’s list of best-selling French-language movies include Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum” (Gaumont), Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent” (SND) and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color” (Wild Bunch).

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