Today, Friday, Unifrance announced a record year for export with preliminary figures for 2008 at 78 million tickets sold worldwide.

The admissions represent a 16% increase over 2007. The US remains the premier consumer of French films with 17.8 million admissions. Russia is in second place with 7.2 million followed by Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK.

It is expected that Unifrance's final figures will show that exports passed 80 million admissions.

The figures were announced at Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris where international buyers are in town to sample the latest offerings from France's sales companies.

Over the weekend, roughly 80 films will screen with 40 market premieres among them.

Major titles to find success abroad in 2008 include: Mathieu Kassovitz's Babylon AD; Asterix At The Olympic Games; EuropaCorp.'s Taken; France's number one film of 2008, Welcome To The Sticks; Cannes competitor The Diving Bell And The Butterfly; and The Transporter 3.

In the US, Guillaume Canet's Tell No One, which received rave reviews there, took in $6mn while Kristin Scott Thomas vehicle, I've Loved You So Long has brought in over $2mn.

In total, 353 French films were released abroad in 2008.