Home to some of the continent’s only movie majors and a production and sales sector which embraces the world, France is the cinema centre of Europe.

France is arguably the headquarters of the international business and the centre of world cinema. It is not just a cultural hub — the home of the Cannes film festival and a legacy as one of the most exciting talent and film producers in the world — but it is home to a cluster of European entertainment giants, international sales companies and aggressive producers who are happy to work in English as well as French.

Local productions are doing a roaring trade at the French box office: 2009 for example spawned huge hits such as Little Nicholas from Wild Bunch and LOL (Laughing Out Loud) (pictured) from Pathé. LOL is already being remade in the US with Miley Cyrus. When the French embrace a local film, they truly embrace it, as Dany Boon’s Welcome To The Sticks (pictured) demonstrated in 2008, becoming the second film in French history to cross the 20 million admissions mark.

The French system supports its film-makers and its industry on every level.

Its TV channels are all obliged to invest in cinema, while major companies such as EuropaCorp, StudioCanal, Pathé and SND/M6 are pouring tens of millions of dollars into their film production and acquisition activities on a scale of which neighbouring European countries can only dream. Meanwhile Orange, the key brand of telecoms giant France Telecom, has an aggressive programme of financing, pre-buying and distribution on VoD, TV, PC or mobile.

Screen’s territory focus analyses the state of the French industry on a distribution, production and international sales level. Elisabeth Lequeret looks at changing dynamics in the distribution sector and tracks the increasing levels of English-language production being bankrolled from France.

Nancy Tartaglione examines the impact of a new production incentive which has attracted international shoots from Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen. Tartaglione also analyses the international appetite for French film and highlights the most exciting French productions due for release this year.

Also profiled are some of the country’s most ambitious players — StudioCanal’s Olivier Courson, SND’s Thierry Desmichelle and the irrepressible Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch — figures whose business view extends far beyond the borders of France.

France In Numbers

(Key CNC statistics on the French audience)

French population 62.1 million
Movie-goers 36.4 million (63.7% of population)
Average number of visits per year 5.2
Attendance by gender 50.6% female, 49.4% male
Proportion of attendance under 25 33%
Number of first-run releases 555, down from 573 in 2007
Number of French films released 240, down from 262 in 2007
Number of active theatres 2,076
Number of active screens 5,418
Number of active theatres in Paris 85 (363 screens)
Total DVD revenues in 2007 $1.3bn (€943.3m), down from $1.6bn (€1.15bn) in 2006
Total DVD units sold in 2007 1.48bn, down from 1.65bn in 2006
Co-production treaties 48

*Figures are from 2008, 2009 figures to be announced in May


Film (year of release) origin, admissions in millions

1 Titanic (1998) US, 20.6m
Welcome To The Sticks (2008) Fr, 20.4m
Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At! (1966) Fr, 17.3m
4 Gone With The Wind (1950) US, 16.7m
Once Upon A Time In The West (1969) It, 14.9m
6 The Jungle Book (1968) US, 14.7m
7 101 Dalmatians (1961) US, 14.68m
Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002) Fr, 14.4m
The Ten Commandments (1958) US, 14.2m
10 Avatar (2009) US, 14.1m*
11 Ben Hur (1960) US, 13.9m
12 The Visitors (1993) Fr, 13.7m
13  The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) UK, 13.5m
14 Cinderella (1950) US, 13.2m
15  The Little World Of Don Camillo (1952) It-Fr, 12.8m
16 The Aristocats (1971) US, 12.6m
17 The Longest Day (1962) US, 11.9m
18 The Sucker (1965) Fr, 11.7m
19 Lady And The Tramp (1955) US, 11.2m
20 Bambi (1947) US, 10.7m

*Figure to Feb 28, film still on release. Source: CNC/Screen International


Cinema attendance in France 1999-2009
Year    AdmissionBox Office ReceiptsAverage Ticket Price
1999153.61m€824m€ 5.36
2000165.76m€894m€ 5.39
2001187.45m€1.02bn€ 5.45
2002184.41m€1.03bn€ 5.59
2003173.46m€996.1m€ 5.74
2004195.53m€1.14bn€ 5.82
2005175.48m€1.03bn€ 5.87
2006188.79m€1.1bn€ 5.94
2007177.87m€1.06bn€ 5.95
2008189.71m€1.14bn€ 6.01
2009200.85mn/a    n/a