French pix top H’wood fare at home

Gaul pics nab 52.5% of market

PARIS — French movies are beating their Hollywood rivals on home turf, with a larger market share for a longer period than they have had in the past decade.

Local pics grabbed 52.6% of the market for the first four months of 2001, compared to 33.4% for the same period last year. U.S. pics took 38.1%.

Gallic movies have trailed Hollywood fare at the box office since the end of a French cinema boom in the ’70s, except for the odd month or two through the ’80s and ’90s, according to the Centre Nationale de Cinematographie.

In 1995, the French managed to lead the market share battle for three consecutive months, but the beginning of this year has been even more successful.

Domestic help

A number of homegrown blockbusters have helped. Action-adventure pic “Brotherhood of the Wolf” by Christophe Gans and comedy “The Closet” by Francis Weber packed them in at the start of the year.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie From Montmartre” now is heading the local B.O. with more than $12 million for its first two weeks. Another recent homegrown hit is the Luc Besson-produced “Yamakasi,” which has brought in more than $11 million in five weeks.

Cinema attendance also is up, with nearly 76 million admissions for the first four months of 2001 in France, almost 12% more than during the same period last year.