French cinema’s B.O. returns in 2012 have set a record with over $1BN in ticket sales, an increase of 88% compared to the previous year, according to a statement released Friday by Unifrance, the Paris-based lobby and trade representation group. This new record beats the previous one established in 2008, by a lot.
According to Unifrance, which is also responsible for the promotion of French cinema abroad, record performance in 2012 can be explained primarily by the “extraordinary performance” of films like “The Intouchables,” “Taken 2” and “The Artist.”
These three films which received French financing primarily combine on their own 65% of the overall attendance recorded by Unifrance films here and internationally in 2012. “The Intouchables” in particular stands out as the most successful ever French-language film. “Taken 2” meanwhile boasts the strongest performance ever recorded for a French production.
Beside these three titles, films like “Asterix and Obelix at the service of his majesty,” “A monster in Paris” (starring Johnny Depp’s ex Vanessa Paradis) and “Amour,” by Michael Haneke (it won the Palme D’Or at the last Cannes Festival) have all exceeded predictions.
According to Unifrance the year was “exceptional” in Western Europe with French cinema reporting attendance levels not seen in a decade. Asia also recorded the highest increase in attendance in 2012 compared to last year.
“These exceptional results are nevertheless obscured by the fact that French cinema has difficulty competing for screens in the U.S., as theaters are mostly taken up by American blockbusters,” Unifance added.
The question will be whether France can maintain this sort of impetus; Unifrance is betting on a slew of new films by the likes of Michel Gondry (“Mood Indigo”) and Luc Besson (“Malavita”) to generate interest this year.