After a record year in 2001, which saw the foreign box office take of French films nearly doubling to reach Euros 208m, 2002 is on its way to confirming the upward trend, according to French film export body Unifrance.

These figures concern only French-language titles, which sold 37.4 million tickets outside of France last year, compared to 16.6 million in 2000. So far in 2002, foreign sales have reached 26.4 million tickets ($157.4m) for French-language titles in the first seven months of the year.

Unifrance's president Daniel Toscan du Plantier stated: " Within a couple of years, French films will earn as much money on the foreign market as in France, which is a very healthy sign. "

Another major difference was that, instead of the token hit French-language title, 2001 saw a variety of films fare well on the international market. Along with Amelie ( Euros 59.1m box office in 2001, and Euros 128.8m at the end of June this year) good performers abroad included Crimson Rivers (Euro29.7m) the comedy The Closet (Euro18.4m) and period action/adventure piece The Brotherhood Of Wolves (Euro17m), all departure from the typical gallic arthouse export success.

"Distributors have changed their strategy. "Toscan du Plantier explains. " They have found out there was money to be made with French films. It started with Besson and Beineix. Chabrol and Rohmer are still there, but French films have now appealing to a much younger audience. The average p&a increased. Some ten French films were given a nationwide release on over 200 prints in Japan last year, for instance. "

Europe (Euros 23.8m box office in 2001) remains the strongest market for French titles, Germany coming first in terms of box office take with Euros 4.4m, Italy coming a strong second with Euros 3.3m (and first in terms of attendance, with 6.9 million admissions, compared to 5.6 million for Germany).