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Hit by Riots, Strikes and Soccer, France’s Box Office Drops by 3% in 2018

In a year marked by civil unrest, strikes and the World Cup, France’s box office dropped by 3% to €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2018, according to Comscore France.

The number of theatrical admissions went down even further, by 4.3%, to 200.47 million tickets sold, but France remains Europe’s biggest nation of moviegoers, ahead of the U.K. (176 million tickets), Spain (92 million), Germany (90 million) and Italy (79 million), according to the CNC, France’s National Film Board.

Several factors contributed to the decline in French cinema attendance, including heat waves, strikes, World Cup soccer – which had audiences glued to their TVs in the summer – and, more recently, the “Yellow Jackets” protests against the government, the National Exhibitors Assn. said in its analysis of the box office results.

Although Hollywood had six titles in the top 10 – “Incredibles 2,” which was No. 1, plus “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” – it was a down year for U.S. movies in France. Admissions for American films dropped by 11% to 90 million tickets sold, which accounted for a 45% market share (compared to 50.6% in 2017).

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” was cited by Comscore’s Eric Marti as the biggest flop of 2018 in France, where the pic grossed about $12 million. Box office in 2017 had been bolstered by “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which came out at the end of that year and grossed more than $65 million.

As for French films, only 11 sold more than 1 million admissions – a decade low – but the market share of local films broke a four-year record to reach 40%, thanks to a handful of highly successful movies, according to the CNC.

Three French movies ranked in the top 5 in 2018. Two were franchise-based comedies from Pathé: “Les Tuche” (5.7 million admissions) and “La Ch’tite Famille” (5.6 million). The third was Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” (4.2 million), Studiocanal’s star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, which world-premiered at Cannes. “Taxi 5,” the action film released by EuropaCorp and ARP Selection, was the fourth highest-grossing French film of 2018 and ranked in the top 10.

2019 is expected to be a bigger year powered by Hollywood heavyweights. Among the anticipated releases of 2019 are Disney titles “Dumbo,” “Frozen 2” and “The Lion King,” as well as French films “Serial (Bad) Weddings 2,” “Edmond” and “Nous Finirons Ensemble,” the sequel to “Little White Lies.”

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