PARIS — France’s 2016 total box office is the second-best in the last 50 years, the country’s CNC state film board announced on Friday. Combined admissions for all movies of any nationality, the total box office came in at 213 million, up 3.6% on 2015 and only bettered in modern times by 2011’s 217 million.
Total gross box office for France last year was €1.39 billion ($1.47 billion), said Eric Marti, at comScore France. Despite the terror attacks at Bataclan and in Nice, and a drop in attendance at museums and theaters, “cinema going in France is doing very well and that is the most striking aspect of results in 2016,” he added.
In a result which looks likely to be repeated in many major markets in Europe, box office was up despite no juggernauts measuring up to 2015’s “Star Wars: Episode 7,” “Minions” or “Jurassic Park.” A large number of movies sold 2 million to 3 million tickets last year and attendance for U.S. movies, normally around 100 million to 105 million, was just under 112 million, which meant “a great year for American movies,” said Marti.
That was thanks to a mix of strength in depth in Hollywood animation and big action fare and the latest instalments from French comedy franchises. According to CBO-Boxoffice.com, a French box office website, five of the ten top-grossing movies in France this year through late December have been Hollywood animated features, led by “Zootopia” (entitled “Zootopie” in France) which sold 4.8 million tickets (earning about $35 milllion), making it the No. 1 movie in France this year, and “Moana,” (“Vaiana,” in France) which ranked third. From French studio Pathe, “Les Tuche 2,” about a hillbilly French family, here visiting the U.S., was the second most-seen movie in France, selling 4.6 million tickets this year.
“U.S. animated and kids movies did particularly well,” said Marti. “There is an 10-20s, young audience base in France which is particularly strong,” he added.
Produced by David Hayman and distributed by Warner Bros., “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” ranked No. 8 in France. Distributed in France by Studiocanal, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” came in at No. 25; French distributor SND nursed two Summit titles – “Now You See Me 2” and “Allegiant” – to top 30 rankings; The Weinstein Company’s “The Hateful Eight” hit 1.7 million admissions. Otherwise all France’s top 30 through late December were either Hollywood studio fare or local comedies.
The biggest arthouse breakout came from Thomas Lilti’s “Irreplaceable,” a drama about doctors’ vocation which sold 1.5 million tickets, grossing around $10 million in France.
France’s 213 million cinema visits make it by a large head Europe’s number one cinema-going nation, and the sixth biggest movie market in ticket sales in the world. Though the U.K. is worth much more in terms of box office grosses – about $1.9 billion last year – ticket sales are way down on France – at 172 million in 2015.
“This historical record testifies to the vitality of cinema-going in France, and shows once more that it is French people’s preferred cultural sortie,” said Frederique Bredin, CNC president, reacting to the results.