The French box office for2004 was released Tuesday by France's exhibitors federation (FNCF). In what isthe best year of the past twenty, 196 million tickets were sold, a 12% increaseon 2003.

The first half of the yearproved the engine for the growth, with a 19% increase over the first six monthsof 2003.

The FNCF claimed a Euros1.7bn investment in construction and renovation of French cinemas as one of thereasons behind the increase.

Forty-eight films broke thesignificant 1 million admissions mark in 2004 with Les Choristes at thetop of the chart with 8.6 million admissions.

The French feel-good filmwas followed by Shrek 2, Harry Potter 3, Spider-Man 2 and TheIncredibles. J

ean-Pierre Jeunet's AVery Long Engagement was the second most successful French film at numbersix.

Three other French filmsrounded out the top ten with comedy Podium, Jean-Jacques Annaud's DeuxFreres and comedy Les 11 Commandements at numbers 8, 9 and 10respectively.