On par with 2018, the overseas box office revenue of French movies reached an estimated €244.4 millions ($272 million) from 40 million admissions in 2019, according to a report unveiled by UniFrance.
The org said the worldwide B.O. of French movies was stable and highlighted the large representation of French films at major festivals and across leading streaming services. Italy was once again in 2019 the biggest foreign market for French movies, followed by Germany and Spain. UniFrance’s new managing director Daniela Elstner, said the B.O. of French films in North America continued to go down in 2019. Indeed, North America ranked fourth with 3.17 tickets sold, an 18% drop on 2018.
The mainstream French comedy “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” which already ranks as the highest-grossing films in France in 2019, was also the most successful French movie abroad with nearly €23 million grossed worldwide. Directed by Philippe de Chauveron, the movie follows a narrow-minded Catholic couple and their three daughters, who have married men of different faiths.
Although it failed at the U.S. box office, Luc Besson’s action pic “Anna” still turned out to be the second highest-grossing French film abroad with €22.8 million. Studiocanal’s family movie “Mia And The White Lion” ranks third, followed by SND’s animated pic “Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion” with €22.1 million and €19.3 million grossed overseas, respectively. Two other animated features, Futurikon’s “Minscules 2,” and Bac Films’s “Terra Willy” rank fifth and sixth. The top 10 of the biggest overseas French hits is completed by Studiocanal’s “Le Grand Bain,” directed by Gilles Lellouche; Playtime’s “An Officer and a Spy,” directed by Roman Polanski; Focus Features’s “Nevada,” helmed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre; and Playtime’s “Non Fiction,” directed by Olivier Assayas.
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In terms of admissions, “Anna” and “Mia And The White Lion” came on top with more than 4 million tickets sold. The performance of “Anna” is still well below the usual score of Besson’s films, notably “Lucy” which had grossed €331 million outside of France in 2014.
“Independent cinema is suffering right now, not just French films, also European and international ones. Still, France has been able to preserve its powerful position thanks to the richness and diversity of its local production,” said Elstner, who noted that France delivers more than 700 films a year around the world and rank after the U.S. as the world’s second biggest purveyor of films.
The box office figures were unveiled Thursday by UniFrance during a reception hosted at France’s culture ministry. The minster Franck Riester made a speech highlighting the crucial role that France plays in promoting world cinema, as well as financing and producing diverse films and ensuring that these movies travel internationally, including at key festivals.
For the second consecutive year, Playtime was the leading independent sales company in terms of admissions, with “An Officer And a Spy,” “Non Fiction” and “Who You Think I Am,” following four vertically-integrated French banners, Studiocanal, SND, Orange Studio and Gaumont.
For the first time, UniFrance joined forces with TV France International, the org promoting French TV content, to hold a conference discussing strategies of streaming platforms on Jan. 15. The event gathered 17 buyers from VOD platforms, including Netflix and Amazon, along with 27 sales companies. The UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris runs Jan. 16- 19.
“On-line platforms open up fresh strategic prospects for French TV content. They are one of the key drivers in our sector, and although they are increasingly present every September at our Rendez- Vous in Biarritz, we thought it was important to host a dedicated event for them,” said Sarah Hemar, the executive director of TV France International.
“Doing this in conjunction with UniFrance helps to reinforce the appeal of French creativity among this extremely valuable sector,” added Hemar.
Hervé Michel, the president of TV France, pointed out that the “sales of world rights packages were in second place among export territories in 2018, with global sales worth €27.3 million.”
“International competition has also greatly intensified, which is why we must boost the visibility of our content more than ever, notably with these VoD services,” said Michel.