This year's two leading foreign-language releases at the international box office are both enjoying a major boost in France - where local films have been suffering of late.

The biggest international foreign-language film so far this year is Zhang Yimou's Hero.

It opened top in France last week (Sep 24-30) selling nearly 330,000 tickets from 375 screens and beating Canadian-French co-production The Barbarian Invasions despite that title playing on 80 more screens.

The French success (approximately $2.1m) brings Hero close to the $75m cumulative - it was on $72.8m prior to the French launch.

The action film's success in France as well as many other territories can be attributed to a variety of reasons. The success of 2000's Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon set the stage for titles with a similar feel to succeed around the world.

The growing profile of stars Jet Li and Crouching Tiger's Zhang Ziyi who have crossed over into English-language US productions such as Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave (Li) and Rush Hour 2 (Ziyi) will also have helped, while the presence of In The Mood For Love stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai may add to the arthouse crowds.

Hero's first week in Paris, on 42 screens, drew a phenomenal 127,798 admissions for an average of over 3,000 people per screen.

Meanwhile hit German comedy Good Bye, Lenin!, which grossed $43m in Germany and Austria alone, was pushed passed the $50m international mark after its second week on release in France.

Now having completed a third week, which saw admissions rise 6% on the previous week, the film has grossed $3.15m (Euro 2.75m) in France bringing its international tally to approximately $51.7m.

Lenin! is also seeing a rare strong run in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. Since being released 29 weeks ago in the German-speaking part of the country, the film has just completed a second week on release in the French sector where German films are rarely released. Over its second weekend Lenin! saw a 38% rise in takings for local distributor Filmcoopi Zurich AG helping Switzerland become the second biggest territory for the film outside Germany, after France. It has taken $1.85m (SFR 2.5m) to date.