×

French Cinema Box Office Overseas Rebounds in 2017

Despite underwhelming in the U.S., ‘Valerian’ helps lift French cinema box office outside France to par for the decade results

PARIS — Fulfilling expectations, after the softest year in a decade in 2016, French film exports bounced back in 2017, with box office for French films outside France near doubling the year before, as French cinema fired on its increasingly well-established three cylinders: a Luc Besson English-language actioner, animation, and comedy.

Provisional box office for French films overseas surged in admissions, up to 80.5 million, and 2016’s  €257.5 million ($303.8 million) box office take rose to €468 million ($552.1 million), near exact par for the past decade or “typical” as Gilles Renouard, Unifrance deputy director, called it at the presentation of statistic at the event. The recovery will seem Pyrrhic to some, driven by Besson’s “Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets,” whose €170.9 million ($201.6 million) outside France was not enough to save the film, nor purported franchise, nor, according to reports, the need of Besson’s EuropaCorp’s to find a new investor or owner to slash its debt load.

Figures were announced by French  film promotion org UniFrance at a Friday evening event at France’s Ministry of Culture.

“Valerian’s” $62.1 million trawl in China, the best ever result for any French film there, was sufficient, however, to make the country the No. 1 French export movie market for 2017, in terms of admissions at least, a status often enjoyed by the U.S. in the past – also thanks to Luc Besson productions, such as the “Taken” franchise and “Lucy.” Total gross box office for French films in the U.S. and Canada of €74.8 million ($88.2 million) outgrossed China’s total haul for all French films released of €64.4 million ($80.0 million).

The second highest-grossing French film was a minority co-production, the animated feature “Leap!” produced out of France by Quad, as wide audience animation, such as “The Little Prince” over 2015-16, continues to give French cinema some of its biggest breakout hits.

Omar Sy comedy “Three is Family,” sold by SND and from Vendôme Production, came in No. 3 for France outside its borders, playing out as the second highest-grossing French majority co-production. The fact that the film is a free adaptation of Eugenio Dérbez’s Mexican comedy-melodrama “Instructions Not Included,” the top-grossing Spanish-language film ever in the U.S., is an indication of the upside to the burgeoning international remake business.

Five of the biggest French-majority productions movies abroad were thrillers, four comedies, and one animation: “The Jungle Bunch,” which ranked at No. 4.

Interestingly, Isabelle Huppert starer, “Elle,” featured in the top 10 both of the last two years, with it’s 2017 take placing it at No. 5, with nearly one million more admissions and another €7.8 million ($9.5 million) in box office take.

Missing from the UniFrance’s conscientiously compiled international box office statistics, some of the most thorough of any country outside the U.S., is a consideration of how well French movies performed in digital distribution. These official figures are of course not available. Attaining them in the long-run is one of the goals of UniFrance.

Unifrance executive director Isabelle Giordano recently told Variety that it is incumbent on the French film industry to showcase their technical skills: “We are really good at animation, VFX and VR. If people ask: What is French cinema today? The answer is; beyond innovative.” Her claims have been backed up by the breakdown of how films fared abroad by genre, with fantasy,horror and sci-fi accounting for %40 of admissions, once again thanks to Besson, and animation making up another %18.4.

The provisional number of French films which received international releases was up 5% from 2017, to 642 titles. Seven French films pulled in more than one million admissions while 76 managed  to surpass the 100,000 ticket mark.

“French films do not have to be in English, and with big budgets to make money,” Renouard said, siting “Raw,” “Elle,” “Frantz” and “Things to Come.”

Good news for the French cinema, Renpuard said, is that French films are commanding both more, and sometimes significant box office in some emerging markets such as Brazil or Mexico – which was the No. 4 theatrical market for French films, at least in terms of admissions.

FRENCH FILMS’ CUMULATIVE OVERSEAS BOX OFFICE, ADMISSIONS, 2008-17

2008: €416.5 million ($491.3 million); 83.0 million

2009: €350.8 million ($413.8 million); 67.2 million

2010: €339.7 million ($400.7 million); 60.0 million

2011: €439.5 million ($518.5 million); 74.3 million

2012: €889.6 million ($1.049.5 billion); 144.1 million

2013: €300.8 million; ($354.9 million); 50.8 million

2014: €685.2 million; ($808.3 million); 120.2 million

2015: €624.1 million; ($736.3 million); 111.4 million

2016: €257.5 million ($303.8 million); 40.7 million

2017: €468.0 million ($573.7 million); 80.5 million *

Source: CNC/UniFrance

FRANCE’S TOP 10 FILM EXPORTS, BY THEATRICAL BOX OFFICE

(MAJORITY-FRENCH PRODUCTIONS ONLY)

Title, sales company, film type; tix sales; €/($) B.O.

1. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” EuropaCorp, sci-fi thriller; 30.6 million; €170.9 million ($209.5 million)

2. “Two Is a Family,” Vendôme Production, comedy; 15 million; €62 million ($67.9 million)

3. “Overdrive ,” Kinology, Overdrive Productions, action-thriller; 1.9 million €9.2 million ($11.28 million)

4. “The Jungle Bunch ,” TAT Productions, animation family adventure; 1.2 million; €5.3 million ($6.5 million)

5. “Elle,” SBS Productions, crime thriller; 0.9 million; €7.3 million ($8.95 million)

6. “Renegades,” EuropaCorp, action thriller; 0.8 million; €3.3 million ($4.05 million)

7. “Miss Sloane ” EuropaCorp, drama thriller; 0.7 million; €5 million ($6.13 million)

8. “R.A.I.D. Special Unit,” Pathé, Les Productions du Ch’Timi , action comedy; 0.6 million; €4.2 million ($5.15 million)

9. “Christmas & Co ,” Légende, comedy; 0.6 million; €2.7 million; ($3.31 million)

10. “Radin! ,” Jerico, comedy; 0.5 million; €2.9 million ($3.56 million)

*= still counting in 2017; €1= $1.23

Source: UniFrance

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Spider-Man Far From Home

    'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Gets Re-Release With New Scene

    Sony Pictures is re-releasing “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with a new action scene. Starting Aug. 29, a new extended cut, featuring four minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence, will be released in theaters in the United States and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX and large formats in select locations. “Spider-Man: Far [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Supporters Back Matthew Modine After Clumsy Joke at SAG-AFTRA Meeting

    More than 100 women, including Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney, have voiced support for Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA presidency, following a joke at a SAG-AFTRA meeting that some decried as misogynist. With voting set to conclude on Aug. 28, the campaigns have featured vitriolic attacks between supporters of Modine, secretary-treasurer Jane Austin and incumbent [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • WGA Agents Packaging Fight Placeholder

    Writers Guild Withdraws State Suit Against Agencies, Refiles in Federal Court

    The Writers Guild of America has withdrawn its state court suit against WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners alleging packaging fees are illegal and re-filed suit in federal court. The WGA also responded to antitrust claims brought against the guild by the three agencies. Those agency suits alleged that the WGA abused its power in [...]

  • Tim Roth to Receive Honorary Heart

    Tim Roth to Receive Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award

    British actor Tim Roth is to receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to the art of film.” The ceremony at the Sarajevo Film Festival will be held on Tuesday. He will hold a masterclass on the same day. His first screen role was the lead in the controversial [...]

  • Isabelle Huppert, receives the Honorary Heart

    Isabelle Huppert on Fateful Encounters, the Nature of Acting and Judging a Good Script

    Celebrated actress Isabelle Huppert, speaking at the Sarajevo Film Festival on Sunday, looked back on her illustrious career in a candid discussion that touched on her acting, the many renowned directors with whom she’s worked, and the importance of dialogue. The festival honored Huppert with its Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award “in recognition of her [...]

  • Inauguracion SANFIC 2019

    15th Sanfic Touts Attendance Rise, Hosts Gael Garcia Bernal, Wagner Moura

    SANTIAGO — Chile’s Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic) launched its 15th edition Sunday Aug. 18 with three of Latin America’s best-known actors, Gael Garcia Bernal, Wagner Moura (“Narcos”) and Graciela Borges (“La Cienaga”), to which it bestowed career recognition awards. “It’s been 15 years in which we have presented more than 1,400 films,” noted Francisca [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content