Lara Croft was the main beneficiary of the annual French promotional event La Fete du Cinema, which suffered this year from a combination of hot weather, a lack of strong titles and a strike by Gaumont cinemas' staff.
Although admissions tripled during the three-day long promotion, compared to the previous week, they plunged 18% (from 3.8 million down to 3 million), compared to last year's event.
Instead of its usual slot, towards the end of June, this year the event was held July 1-3, designed to coincide with the beginning of the summer school holidays, but this year also with a heat wave. This unfortunate timing combined with strike action by staff of Gaumont 's venues, which controls 7.4% of the 5,000 screens in the country, who were protesting against the takeover of the circuit by Pathe.
This merger, creating a 750 screen-strong (90 sites) exhibition company (EuroPalaces, owned 66% by Pathe and 34% by Gaumont) and with a 21% share of the French exhibition market, compared to 15.6% for UGC, was greenlighted last week by the companies' boards.
French exhibitors' union FNCF, which organizes the event, blamed the 18% admissions slump on a drought of fresh crowdpullers. Except for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which attracted a massive 500,000 admissions, other titles including Amelie From Montmartre, Pearl Harbo and The Mummy 2, had been in the theatres too long to drive attendance, despite a promotional mechanic whereby for every full-price ticket, customers can see as many subsequent films for $1.35 (FF10).