Top French export was Luc Besson’s crime caper The Family starring Robert De Niro.

The international market for French films collapsed in 2013 with global admissions plummeting by 65.3% to 50 million, according to Unifrance’s annual study on the performance of French cinema abroad.

This compares with 140 million admissions for French-produced films in 2012, a record year abroad driven by hit comedy Intouchables, EuropaCorp’s blockbuster Taken 2 and Oscar-winning The Artist.  

The 2012 bumper performance aside, however, the 2013 figures were also down on the more representative year of 2011, in which French films clocked up some 65.7 million entries.

Box office receipts were down 68.5% on the previous year:

  • 2013: €280m ($379m)
  • 2012: €875m ($1.18bn)
  • 2011: €405m ($548m) on 2011.

Breaking the 50 million-figure down, Unifrance noted that French-language films had generated 24 million entries, against 69.5 million in 2012. French majority productions accounted for 37 million admissions.

EuropaCorp triumphs internationally

The top French export for 2013 was Luc Besson’s English-language The Family, titled Malavita in France and starring Roberto De Niro as a Mafia turncoat sent to live in the Normandy countryside with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and two teenage children as part of a witness protection programme.

The film, which generated 8.3 million entries worldwide in 2013, was one of the first productions to be shot at the Cité du Cinema complex, spearheaded by Besson and part owned by his mini major EuropaCorp.

Austrian director Michael Haneke’s French-language Amour, majority-produced and sold by Paris-based Les Films du Losange came in second, with 2.4 million entries in 2013.

Dany Boon and Diane Kruger-starring romantic comedy Fly Me to the Moon (Un Plan Parfait), produced by Intouchables production house Quad, generated the third most international admissions of 1.6 million.

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Adele: Chapters 1 & 2, also known as Blue is the Warmest Colour, which is still being rolled out across the world, generated a respectable 1.14 million international entries in 2013 and is expected to add to this in 2014.

Other art house titles scoring internationally included France’s 2013 Oscar submission Renoir, which sold some 713,607 tickets, and Rust and Bone, which generated 701,073 entries. Both titles were sold by Wild Bunch.

Surprise break comedy hits, included Gaumont’s Paulette, about a grandmother who starts pushing drugs to supplement her pension, and Omar Sy-starrer The Other Side of the Tracks, sold internationally by Other Angle, which drew 757,765 and 793,246 spectators respectively

Looking to 2014

In the face of 2013’s poor figures, the French film industry remains positive for 2014 as with pictures including Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, which has clocked up some 550,000 admissions in France in two weeks.

Other titles include the Catherine Deneuve-starring In The Courtyard, about the friendship between a pensioner and 40-year-old musician who abandons music to become a caretaker; and another round of English-language EuropaCorp productions including 3 Days to Kill and Brick Mansions.