France's exhibition federation, the FNCF, has announced that 2.5 million tickets were sold during its recent Springtime of Film programme. The event, a three-day promotion where admission is slashed to Euros 3 - less than half normal price - in 5,500 cinemas across the country, is four years old. 2003 marks the best showing since the program was launched.

Last year's edition registered 2.1 million tickets, meaning a 17% increase for 2003. The news is good, especially given that box-office was down 18% for January and 13% in February compared to 2002.

The FNCF noted, "This is a very positive result in the context of reduced attendance since the beginning of the year. As well, the recent exceptional weather did not seem to lend itself to indoor activities."

While all films were part of the event, new releases like Spike Lee's The 25th Hour, Alain Corneau's Stupeur Et Tremblements and Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven benefited from an opening push.

Other films, which have been out longer, also saw a fresh hike in ticket sales. These include Alexander Payne's About Schmidt and Claude Chabrol's La Fleur Du Mal.

The FNCF's next reduced price event, La Fete du Cinema, takes place in June and has traditionally been an added boost for box-office.