Audiences for French films around the world grew 49% year-on-year in 2005, led by March Of The Penguins in the US, according to figures revealed at the 8th annual French FilmRendez-Vous in Paris.

Themarket, which closed yesterday, heard that French films had been seen by 73.6 million internationalcinema-goers, generating $448m(Euros 369m). 2005 foreign admissions were higher than admissions for French films at home - 64.8 million tickets were sold in France, almost 12% fewer admissionsthan abroad.

The most successful film globally, March Of The Penguins, which Warner Independent released in April, has already taken $75m. Thetotal take for French films in the US was $150m.

Thenews was a boost for the Unifrance-organised Rendez-Vous, which allows foreignbuyers to meet French sales houses.

Thisyear 360 distributors from 45 countries made the trek to the City of Light.

FrancoisYon of successful sales house Films Distribution noted that the eventhad "gone from being a chance to have a nice visit to a mildly active market."

Withincreased attendance, the actual market space has become more crowded. Plansare underway to move from just off the Champs-Elysees to larger quarters nextyear.

Thoughthe general consensus during the market was that there were no frenzy-inspiringtitles, deals are generally not concluded at the Rendez-Vous with folks shoringthemselves up to sign in Berlin.

Andthe French sales companies, which are among the movie world's strongest, tendto reserve their big announcements for the higher-profile events. Indeed, WildBunch chief Vincent Maraval said the company had a big announcement to make onSunday but that it was happening in ParkCity where Sundance is underway.

Yonnoted that two of his films, SaintJacques -La Mecque by Coline Serreau and I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed by Said Smihi, had both drawn strong interest while Wide Management'sLoic Magneron said he was likely to sign three territories on Perry Ogden's Pavee Lackeen The Traveller Girl.

Magneron,who often handles first time directors, said that there had been a lot moreenergy this year. "More and more you see big companies come to look for firstfilms which is nothing like it was two years ago."

WildBunch, meanwhile, threw two well-attended parties. On Saturday night, ascreening of Kim Shapiron's Sheitan set tongues wagging while a second fete was going forward on the ChampsElysees for Raphael Sibilla's No Body Is Perfect.