Anchored heavily by Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, French film exports in 2017 saw a dramatic increase versus 2016’s precipitous dive. Unifrance, the body that promotes French film abroad, said tonight in Paris that 80.5M tickets were sold to homegrown movies outside France in 2017 which was good for 468M euros ($572.5M). In admissions, that’s a 98% increase compared to 2016 and in euros, it’s an upward swing of 82%. There were more tickets sold to French films outside France than within the Hexagon’s borders, Unifrance noted.
Although the org admitted that it was “disappointed” by Valerian’s North American performance ($41.2M), the EuropaCorp film sold 30.6M tickets outside France for a total 170.9M euros ($209M including NA). Other films that performed included Vendôme Production’s Demain Tout Commence (Two Is A Family), the Omar Sy-starrer that saw admissions of 4.8M and was sold by SND. Overdrive, produced and sold by Kinology, sold 1.9M tickets to round out the Top 3.
In 2016, sales were dinged by the lack of a major English-language French-made blockbuster. While Valerian underperformed, the contribution that Besson brings to the French export business is undeniable — even as his company eyes ways to stabilize after big losses in the past year and a half.
Western Europe remains the largest regional consumer of French-made movies in the world, with 30.7% of admissions coming from across the continent. Ticket sales in Asia rose five-fold in 2017, largely off of Valerian’s 11M and with China becoming the biggest single market, ahead of the U.S.
North America fell to 4th position in terms of a region for French films in 2017, representing 13.5% of the total pie. The U.S., however, remains the No. 2 market with 10M tickets sold.
Despite the weigh of Valerian, Unifrance noted that 50% of the overseas sales were from films made in the French language. The org also said that there are more French films in different markets than ever, but their careers are shorter.