French cinema admissions have dropped by 15% for the firstsix months of 2005 as compared to the same period in 2004.

France's National Film Federation (FNCF), whichoversees exhibition, noted that 87,550,000 tickets have been sold since January1. The fall in French admissions echoes similar falls across Europe (see storylink below).

While the drop is not negligible, 2004's numbers werebolstered by such first-half hits as Podium and Les Choristes makingthe six month period the best in 20 years.

The figures for first half 2005 represent roughly 2 millionmore admissions than the comparable period in 2003.

According to the FNCF, film attendance in small towns wassignificantly down, sometimes by as much as 20% for the half. Given the bigsuccess of French films early last year - notably Les Choristes which played extremely well in the provinces -the loss is not surprising.

Paris, which is rarely a barometer of what is happening inthe rest of the country, saw attendance drop off by 9% compared to January-June2004.

The FNCF, whose statistics represent about 70% of thenational total, said there were several factors at work. The organisation cited"a general economic and social moroseness," while adding that theselection of films was the principle cause of such a weak box-office with,"a deficit of popular films."

Curiously, the top twenty films of 2005 so far include tenlocal productions or co-productions while for 2004 there were only 8. Anothervery noticeable difference between first half of 2004 and first half 2005 isthe gap of 11 million admissions spread across the top twenty films.

For the year thus far, Star Wars: Revenge Of the Sith is in first place with 6.8 million admissions,followed by James Huth's Brice De Nice with 4.3 million and Clint Eastwood's Oscarwinner Million Dollar Baby with3.1 million. In 2004, Les Choristeswas on top with 6.6 million admissions followed by Harry Potter AndThe Prisoner Of Azkaban with 5.8 millionand Podium at 3.6 million.