France confirmed its status as Europe’s biggest nation of moviegoers in 2017 with 209.2 million admissions, its third-largest number in the last 50 years, according to the country’s National Film Board (CNC).
In dollar terms, France’s 2017 box office also scored its third-biggest haul in history, with an estimated gross of $1.64 billion (€1.36 billion). That is 2% down from 2016’s total.
While admissions for American films fell by 8.6% (102 million admissions) in 2017, Hollywood hits such as “Despicable Me 3” (pictured), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Baby Boss” dominated the French charts.
Three homegrown movies showed up in the top 10 highest-grossing films: Luc Besson’s science-fiction pic “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” plus a pair of French-language comedies, Dany Boon’s “Raid Dingue” and Philippe Lacheau’s “Alibi.com,” the only two French-language films which grossed more than $25 million in 2017.
Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s dramedy “C’est La Vie” took the 12th slot with an estimated $23.7 million.
There were no real French blockbusters in 2017, but local movies managed to sell 78.19 million tickets, slightly more than last year, and took a 37.4% market share, up 2.6% on last year. The CNC ascribed the upward trend to the breadth and diversity of the French films offer.
Besides “Raid Dingue,” “Alibi.com” and “C’est La Vie,” a flurry of French-language films proved to be sleeper hits, notably Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir’s dramedy “Patients,” Albert Dupontel’s historical film “Au Revoir Là-Haut,” and the animated features “Sahara,” “Les As de la Jungle” and “Le Grand Méchant Renard et Autres Contes.”
On top of these, a handful of critically acclaimed films that played at Cannes also fared particularly well in French theaters. These include Robin Campillo’s Grand Jury prize-winning “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Agnes Varda and JR’s “Visages, Villages,” Mathieu Amalric’s Un Certain Regard winner “Barbara,” and Hubert Charuel’s “Petit Paysan,” which played in Critics’ Week.
Reacting to the box office report, the National Federation of French Cinemas noted that admissions were spread across a larger number of films. The federation said movie-going was also strong in France because of its 5,847 screens – Europe’s biggest market for theaters – which have increased by 10% in the last decade, along with the number of screenings, which were up 27%.
Another factor driving France’s high theatrical attendance is the record number of movies getting released. As many as 700 films came out in theaters in 2017.