Admissions at French cinemas rose slightly in the first quarter of 2004, according to new figures from France's national cinema federation (FNCF).

The FNCF said admissions increased 2.3% to 48.2m compared to the same period last year.

It noted that March's three-day Springtime of Film scheme was one of the reasons behind the jump - the reduced ticket price programme is set up by the FNCF and saw 2.5 million people line up at cinemas across the country.

The rise, however, is still something of a surprise as it has been achieved without any surefire local blockbusters - such as the Asterix or Taxi franchises - being released into French theatres.

Instead, a number of small films have had strong showings in early 2004 including Yann Moix's debut hit Podium, Disney's Brother Bear, Jackass doppelganger Les 11 Commandements and Berlin buzz film and Miramax pick-up Les Choristes.

The FNCF also noted that box-office was up despite a lack of big American films to lead the pack.

The rise will also be a relief to the French industry. Admissions fells 5.6% last year to 174.2m tickets sold.

The top ten films released in 2004 so far are:
Podium, 3.5 million admissions
Brother Bear, 3.4 million admissions
Les 11 Commandements, 2.9 million admissions
The Last Samurai, 2.2 million admissions
Les Rivieres Pourpres, 2 2.1 million admissions
RRRrrrr!!,! 1.7 million admissions
Les Choristes, 1.6 million admissions
Gothika, 1.5 million admissions
Peter Pan, 1.4 million admissions
Lost In Translation, 1.3 million admissions