Gaul attendance jumps 19%

Last year's dip overcome by big blockbusters

PARIS — Cinema attendance in France leapt 19% in the first six months of 2004, with more than 102 million tickets sold — a total gross of around $724 million, according to figures released by the National Exhibitors Federation.

Last year saw a 6% dip in attendance. Exhibs blamed that downturn on economic doldrums, a poor crop of films and a long hot summer that kept people away from theaters.

Analyzing the figures Tuesday, the exhib org said several big blockbusters came out in May and June this year, boosting ticket sales.

France’s Fete du Cinema moviegoing promotion, which offered cut-price tickets June 27-29, also contributed 4.3 million admissions. But a larger number of movies, some 25, notched up more than 1 million tickets sold in the first six months, compared with 17 in the same period last year.

Local hit “Les choristes” beat “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” for the No. 1 slot, grossing $46.4 million.

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