France's three-day Fete du Cinema, when ticket prices are reduced by some 60%, saw ticket sales falling to 3 million, down from last year's 3.6 million.

With the current downturn in French cinema -going, the results are perhaps less surprising.. Ticket sales for the first six months of 2003 are down 7.4% to 76.4 million compared to the same period last year..

Olivier Snanoudj, deputy director of the FNCF, the body that organises the event told Screen Daily, "It's less than last year but for us it's pretty satisfying considering the current market conditions. It did serve to wake up the market, however, and will certainly help kick-start the summer film season.'"

The premise behind the event is to launch the summer box-office season and this year the scheme seems to have worked. Compared with the previous weeks' national box office takings, ticket sales were three times higher.

Snanoudj noted that while there were no blockbusters in the line-up this year, compared to last year which had Spider-Man, French films got a lift.

Among the top films over the three days were La Mystere De La Chambre Jaune, Le Bison and Cannes favourite Les Triplettes De Belleville. The strong showing of French films is, "for us a very positive element," said Snanoudj