The Little Prince
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

France Notches Up Third Best Year B.O results abroad in history with animation a new star

PARIS – Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, family entertainment and comedies pushed French film export to a strong €600 million ($657 million) and 106 million in ticket sales outside France, the third best year in history, UniFrance announced Friday in Paris at a ceremony hosted by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius.

Taken 3” was France’s biggest hit abroad, notching up €261.7 million($286.6 million). Results also signal the third time in four years French movies have punched cinema theater tix sales above the symbolic 100 million admission mark abroad, after 2012’s 144.1 million and 2014’s 120.2 million.

Yet, it’s not just the figure but the way French films got there in 2015 which is significant: Led by “The Little Prince,” produced by Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam at ON Entertainment, who received the plaudit of UniFrance’s 2015 French Cinema Award at the Friday night sales figure presentation, three out of the Top 10 French films abroad were animated features, and a fourth another kind of family entertainment movie, though maybe a borderline one in this case, the fairy tale riff “Beauty and the Beast.”

That goes to underscore a brace of current box office trends; Family entertainment, with parents seeking a communal social experience for their children and sometimes, one could deduce, access to world classics, is proving particularly resilient over much of the world; it is underserved by Europe’s independent production sector.

Also, more forms of more mainstream entertainment, and not just EuropaCorp action thrillers, are now making bigger bucks for France abroad; France’s foreign market offer is firing on ever more cylinders with, after comedies began to break out with Dany Boon’s 2008’s “Welcome to the Sticks,” animation now France’s newest star. At the Friday night presentation, UniFrance’s Isabelle Giordano rightly praised French cinema for its “diversity.”

France’s first live-action drama, “Samba,” starring Omar Sy (“Jurassic World”) placed No. 8 in 2015 Fremch export box office rankings. “Beauty and the Beast,” from Christophe Gans (“Silent Hill”) came No. 9. France’s first arthouse offering, Wim Wenders’ co-directed “The Salt of the Earth,” an international co-production, rounded up the Top 10 of France’s biggest hits in 2015 at the international box office.

Addressing an audience of industry figures and journalists, Fabius praised France’s film support system for working “really rather well.” That, and French talent and producers. would explain France’s success abroad, he suggested.

World premiering at Cannes, and already France’s biggest foreign market animation hit ever, “The Little Prince” –  a Paramount pick-up which has now grossed $103 million and 19 million admissions worldwide – looks as if it has considerable gas still in the tank with the U.S (March 18), Canada, the U.K., Spain and Australia/New Zealand still to open.

Challenges remain, however: ON Animation Studios is now one of the very few companies in Europe – think Aardman, David Heyman in the case of CG/live action “Paddington,” both working in partnership with Paris-based Euro group Studiocanal, – which is able to attain a sufficient scale of production to take on the Hollywood Studios in animation, the question is whether France can sustain such animation B.O. every year.

The rise of French filmed family entertainment fed through last year into individual market results. Giordano pinpointed two. A bastion of family cinemagoing, Latin America saw B.O. for French movies shoot up 76% in Mexico to €25.2 million ($27.6 million) and 44% in Brazil (€19.2 million: $20.9 million). In a bumper year, Colombia also saw boffo results for titles, led by “La Famille Belier.”

Furthermore, in terms of overseas markets, 2015 saw a turn-up for the statistics book with China proving the No. 1 overseas market for French in spectators (14.7 million), beating out the U.S. and English-speaking Canada (14.4 million), though the latter repped €105.7 million ($115.7 million) in gross box office for Gallic fare vs. China’s €70.8 million ($77.5 million).


Title, sales company, film type, tix sales, €/($) B.O.

1.”Taken 3,” EuropaCorp, action thriller; 43.6 million, €261.7 million ($286.6 million)

2.”The Little Prince,” Wild Bunch, animation/family; 15 million; €62 million ($67.9 million)*

3.”The Transporter Refueled,” EuropaCorp, action-thriller; 12.7 million €63.6 million ($69.6 million)

4.”La Famille Belier,” SND, family dramedy; 3.3 million; €20.6 million ($22.6 million);

5.“Serial (Bad) Weddings, TF1 Intl.; comedy; 2.8 million; €16.6 million ($18.2 million)

6.”Asterix – The Land of the Gods,” SND, animation/family; 2.2 million; €14.0 million ($15.3 million)

7.“Mune: Guardian of the Moon” Kinology, animation/family; 1.9 million; €7.6 million ($8.3 million)

8.“Samba,” Gaumont, romantic dramedy; 1.7 million: €11.4 million ($12.5 million)

9.“Beauty and the Beast,” Pathe, fantasy drama; 1.5 million; €4.2 million; ($4.6 million)

10.“The Salt of the Earth,” Le Pacte, docu-biopic; 0.8 million; €5.1 million ($5.6 million).

*= still counting in 2016; €1= 1.095


2015: €600 million ($.654.0 million)

2014: €685.2 million ($746.9 million)

2013: €300.8 million ($327.0 million)

2012: €889.6 million ($969.6 million)

2011: €439.5 million ($479.1 million)

2010: €339.7 million ($370.3 million)

2009: €350.8 million ($382.3 million)

2008: €416.5 million ($454.0million)

2007: €354.0 million ($385.9 million)

2006: €322.6 million ($362.5 million)

2005: €392.1 million ($427.4 million)

Source: UniFrance €1=$1.09

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