In Annecy for the first time, Unifrance releases 12-year study on performance of French animation films at foreign box office

French animation films attracted some 34.5 million foreign spectators from 1999 to 2010, performing almost as well abroad as at home where they clocked up some 37.3 million admissions, according to a new Unifrance study released at the Annecy Animation Festival.

“Starting with Kirikou, French animation films have become increasingly prevalent at the international box office… and we felt the time was right for us to conduct a study,” commented Gilles Renouard, deputy director general of Unifrance which is at the Annecy Animation Festival for the first time this year.

The study found that French animation films accounted for on average 4.7% of the global box office for French films, hitting a peak of 17% in 2007 due to the international success of EuropaCorp’s Arthur and The Invisibles (Arthur et Les Minimoys), which was seen by 10.2 million people worldwide.

In the 1999 to 2010 period, ten French animation films clocked up more than one million entries internationally. These included the Igor (4.2 million), Astérix and the Vikings (2.6 million), The Triplets of Belleville (2.05 million) and Persepolis (1.8 million).

The study noted that the growing importance of French animation films on the world stage had started with 1998 film Kirikou and The Sorcerer which achieved 1.5 million entries at home and another 854,000 abroad.

In terms of territories, Unifrance noted that Britain, Mexico, Poland and Turkey were particularly strong markets for French animation films, whereas Asian markets were relatively weak.

Looking at the top territories purely in terms of admissions, French animation films achieved 7.1 million admissions in the United States over the period for a total box office of €36.1 million. In Britain, French animation clocked up 3.3 million entries for a box office of €25 million.

“Britain, which is traditionally a difficult territory for French feature films, is one of the best territories for our animation films,” commented Renouard. “This is due to the fact that the films can be easily dubbed and then go into mainstream multiplex circuits.”

He noted that Unifrance had recently launched a fund to support the dubbing of animation films, starting with A Cat in Paris (Une vie de chat) which has been dubbed into English.