France breaks box office records

Gaul tallies highest ticket sales since 1967

France, Europe’s biggest movie market, smashed box office records for the second year running in 2010.

Admissions hit 206.5 million, the highest ticket sales since 1967, France’s CNC film board announced Wednesday. Gross box office revenues — €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) — were a best ever record.

The bonanza was driven by a slew of high-performing titles, headed, of new bows, by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” ($45.8 million), which just pipped Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies” ($43 million), France’s best-performing title, to the 2010 B.O. crown, per measurement company CBO Box Office.

“Avatar,” as a holdover, would have been the highest grossing title in France last year with a $67.1 million gross.

French market share edged down to 35.5% against 2009’s 36.8%, with attendance for local pics falling 1%. But French cinema held well enough not to dent overall stats.

Three 3D pics — “Shrek Forever After” ($37.5 million), “Alice in Wonderland” ($36.8 million) and “Toy Story 3” ($35.3 million) — came in fourth, fifth an sixth in the 2010 rankings as France’s digital screen count doubled to over 1,800. 3D pics accounted for 16% of tickets sold last year, according to the CNC.

Warner Bros. topped distributors rankings with a 12.4% market share, followed by 20th Century Fox (9.3%), Walt Disney (9.1%), Paramount (8.2%), EuropaCorp (7.3%), UPI (6.5%) and Pathe Distribution (6%).

(Anson Woodring contributed to this article.)