French pics lose foreign fans

International box office falls 13%

PARIS — The box office for French films in foreign markets fell 13% last year, dropping from Euros 311 million ($457 million) in 2006 to $396 million in 2007.

An estimating 57 million foreign viewers saw Gallic films last year, film promotional body Unifrance reported. This reps a drop of 9% from 2006’s 62.1 million, and a 32% fall off from the 75.1 million in the record-breaking year of 2005.

The 2007 estimate still represents a healthy increase on the average admissions for the past 10 years, which is 51.1 million.

Perhaps the most surprising statistic indicated Russia is now a bigger market for French product than the U.S. in terms of audience numbers. Some 7.3 million Russian cinema-goers saw French films last year, compared with 6.8 million Americans.

However, German auds were the kindest on French producers’ bank balances over the period, earning them $51.2 million, followed by the U.S. at $44.7 million and Russia at $32.5 million.

Popular on Variety

“Taxi 4” accounted for the lion’s share of Russian viewers, totaling around 2.8 million on 500 prints.

Europe as a whole was by far France’s largest export market: 61% of the total.

Germany, Spain, Italy and the U.K. accounted for 15.3 million viewers. Results were also good in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, but many key Asian markets remained elusive.

Japan remained a difficult territory, and China revealed itself as less receptive this year, said Unifrance. Japanese B.O. for French fare stood at $14.2 million and China at $4.8 million.

The top performing French title overseas was “Arthur and the Invisibles” with 9,058,033 admissions and a $62.03 million gross. Second was “La Vie en rose” with 4,554,1166 and $36.68 million. Third was “Taxi 4” with 4,236,024 and $25.35 million.

Other top pics were “Paris, je t’aime” (1,950,478, $14.35 million); “Two Days in Paris” (1,602,746; $13.38 million); “Hunting and Gathering” (1,369,509; $12.34 million); “Priceless” (876,836; $6.39 million); “My Best Friend” (724,806; $5.89 million); “Tell No One” (515,451; $4.37 million); and “The Singer” (504,326; $4.24 million).