After bouncing back in 2017, the overseas box office revenue of French movies plummeted by 51% to €237 million ($270 million) with 40 million admissions, which dropped by 52% in 2018.
The provisional box office figures were unveiled Thursday by UniFrance during a reception hosted at France’s culture ministry, during which Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the directors of “The Intouchables” and most recently “C’est La Vie,” received the French Cinema Award.
Co-produced and sold by Gaumont, “C’est La Vie” grossed over €15 million overseas and was the second-biggest French hit in international markets in 2018, following the EuropaCorp-produced “Taxi 5,” an action-packed film directed by Franck Gastambide.
The other French films ranking in the top 10 of 2018 include Dany Boon’s “La Ch’tite Famille” (Pathé), “Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life” (Gaumont), the animated film “White Fang” (SC Films International), “Rolling to You” (Gaumont), “Big Bad Fox & Other Tales” (StudioCanal), “The Young Karl Marx” (Playtime) and “The Insult” (Indie Sales).
With three films in the top 10, Gaumont was the No. 1 sales company for French films in 2018, followed by three more French studios – EuropaCorp, Studiocanal and Pathé Films – and the independent sales company Playtime.
Speaking to Variety, Cecile Gaget, who heads international co-production and distribution at Gaumont, said that the company owes its success to the quality of its lineup but also to its approach to marketing and fruitful collaboration with distributors from an early stage.
When announcing the export results, Gilles Renouard, UniFrance’s co-managing director, said the drop in B.O. revenue was primarily caused by the lack of a “powerhouse,” such as an English-language action or science-fiction film produced by EuropaCorp, like “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which sold 30.4 million admissions; or a big-budget animated movie like Gaumont’s “Leap,” which sold 12.7 million tickets last year.
Traditionally the biggest market for French movies, the U.S. came in second behind Italy in 2018 with €29.1 million ($33 million) grossed from 3.92 million tickets sold, a 40% year-on-year drop. In Italy, French films grossed €23.1 million from 3.94 million tickets sold. Belgium and Luxembourg, Spain and Germany were the other strong consumers of French movies.
UniFrance also reported on the top 10 foreign distributors. China Film Group, as expected, topped the chart with “Taxi 5,” followed by Belgium/Luxembourg’s Alternative Films, Italy’s Notorious Pictures, Spain’s A Contracorriente Films, Belgium/Luxembourg’s Belga Films, Mexico’s Nueva Era Films, Poland’s Kino Swiat International, Russia’s Central Partnership, Italy’s Adler Entertainment and Germany’s Universum Film.
Looking ahead, UniFrance anticipates a B.O. rebound in 2018 with anticipated comedy sequels, such as Guillaume Canet’s “We’ll End Up Together,” “Serial Bad Weddings 2” and “Tanguy Is Back.” In terms of animated films, “Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion,” “Funan, Minuscule – Mandibles From Far Away” and “Terra Willy” are also expected to do well. The promo org also pointed to several renowned directors, such as Olivier Assayas with “Non-Fiction” and François Ozon with “By the Grace of God,” who have a loyal following and will draw in foreign audiences.