French Box Office Holds Steady During First Seven Months of 2017

Valerian review
Courtesy of STX Entertainment

PARIS– Powered by Hollywood animated blockbusters and action-packed franchises, the French box office held relatively steady during the first seven months of 2017 compared to the year before, with 122.3 million admissions.

Illumination MacGuff’s “Despicable Me 3,” directed Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, is the year’s highest earner so far, having grossed more than 40 million euros ($46.9 million) from 4.7 million admissions.

Box-office figures for the first seven months of 2017 show only a slight 1.7% drop compared to the same period in 2016. Last year, France scored its second-biggest box office performance of the last 50 years with 1.39 billion euros ($1.63 billion) grossed from a total of 213 million admissions, thanks to a mixture of U.S. pics and the latest installments of popular French comedy franchises (namely, “Les Tuches 2” and “Camping 3”).

Although U.S. movies have dominated this year’s chart so far, the market shares of French and American films remain on a par with last year, with 34.7% for Gallic movies and 52.6% for American films.

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Three non-franchise French movies showed up in the top 10 highest-grossing films: “Raid Dingue,” an action comedy directed by and starring local star Dany Boon (“Welcome to the Sticks”), and released by Pathé; “Alibi,” another comedy directed by and starring Philippe Lacheau (“Babysitting”) and released by Studiocanal; and Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which has grossed 24.8 million euros ($29.12 million) from 2.9 million admissions following its third weekend.

Shot at EuropaCorp’s film studio near Paris, “Valerian” has clinched its best results so far in France, where it has even outperformed Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” The science fiction movie, based on a popular French comic book series, is still going strong and is expected to bolster France’s box office during the second half of this year. That should come as a bit of consolation for Besson and EuropaCorp amid disappointing returns in the U.S. for a $200-million spectacular that is the most expensive independent film ever made.

As always, the French movies that drew the most moviegoers during this year’s first seven months are comedies (such as Lucien Jean-Baptiste’s “He Even Has Your Eyes” and Guillaume Canet’s “Rock n Roll”) with the exception of Christian Duguay’s World War II drama “A Bag of Marbles”; Fabien Marsaud’s “Patients,” a dramedy about a young athlete who becomes quadriplegic; and the animated feature “Sahara.”

On top of “Valerian” and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which bowed in early August, other upcoming releases expected to perform well in France in the last five months include Charlize Theron starrer “Atomic Blonde,” Antonio Negret’s “Overdrive,” Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”, Patrick Hughes’s “Hitman & Bodyguard,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Emoji Movie,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opens in France on Dec. 13.

Among the French-language movies that could potentially garner local audiences in significant numbers are Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s (“Intouchables”) “C’est la vie,” Alain Chabat’s “Santa & Cie,” Nicolas Bary’s “Le Petit Spirou,” Lionel Steketee’s “Les Nouvelles Aventures de Cendrillon,” Nicolas Vanier’s “L’ecole buissoniere,” Michael R. Roskam’s “Le Fidele,” as well as movies that played at the Cannes Film Festival, such as Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winning “The Square,” Robin Campillo’s French-language “120 Beats Per Minute,” which won the Grand Prix and Michel Hazanavicius’s “Redoutable.”