French cinema's national pride took a dent last year as local films' box office share dipped under the symbolic 30% mark.

The fall from 1999's market share of 32.4% came despite a buoyant market. The French box-office rang up 163m tickets, the highest cinema attendance in ten years with the exception of Titanic-fuelled 1998. By comparison, 154m were sold in 1999.

The 6% rise in attendance appears to have been driven by the launch of loyalty passes and a rise in the number of multiplexes - France had 65 sites at the end of 1999, compared to 83 in 2000.

According to figures published by national cinema body the CNC, a record 540 films were released in 2000. On average, ten titles came out per week. Overall, the number of films on offer has increased by 36% since 1995.

But, although ten more French films were released last year, they attracted only a flat 47 million admissions. High-profile disappointments included Gaumont's large-scale Vatel, while notable successes included Gaumont's The Crimson Rivers.