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French cinema attendance up 23%

'Wolverine,' 'Angels' lift film-going to 15 million

Cinema attendance in France hit 15.39 million in May, up 23.4% on the same month last year, for a box office haul (based on the average ticket price) of €91 million ($127 million).

May’s hot tickets were “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Angels and Demons,” with local laffer “Incognito” also playing well.

Year-on-year figures are distorted by the massive success of Dany Boon’s “Welcome to the Sticks,” which drove Gallic moviegoers wild early in 2008. Attendance in March was down nearly a third this year as a consequence but has since picked up.

Audiences for the first five months of 2009 are now only 5.5% down on 2008.

With no comparable blockbuster this year, French films have lost market share, according to estimates from the Centre National de la Cinematographie. Local product accounted for 41.1% of the market in the year to May vs. 57.8% in the year-earlier period.

U.S. films increased their share from 34.8% to 44%, foreign films from 8% to 14.9%.