France's dominance of the local market looks set to be replaced by Hollywood this summer. Nancy Tartaglione-Vialatte reports.

While the box office for the first five months of 2007 shows a 12.6% decrease compared to last year, exhibitors are nonetheless optimistic. Last year's early numbers were blurred by the mega-hit Les Bronzes 3: Amis Pour La Vie which was released in February 2006 and went on to be the year's top earner with 10.4 million admissions.

Stephane Landfried at the French National Cinema Federation (Fncf) notes that 'exhibitors have been very happy with the beginning of the year and notably with Olivier Dahan's La Vie En Rose'. Indeed, the Berlin festival-opener has recorded almost 5.1 million admissions so far, while the Luc Besson-produced Taxi 4 has brought in 4.5 million to date. Yet, since the release of Spider-Man 3 there has been a dearth of strong films, with April seeing a 44% drop in admissions.

Landfried says exhibitors are now holding their breath for Shrek The Third (June 13) and Ocean's Thirteen (June 20), followed by a host of other major studio productions, including Die Hard 4.0 (July 4), Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (July 11), The Simpsons Movie (July 25) and Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (August 8). The only big local films will be Cannes entry Persepolis (June 27) and Michel Boujenah's 3 Amis (August 22).

In terms of theatres, France experienced something unusual in 2006, with a massive 135 screens opening - although only 65 were in multiplexes.