25 NOV 2021

2020 was a record year for French feature films abroad

UniFrance has released the 2020 results for French feature films shown in foreign theaters, on digital platforms, and at ten international film festivals. This report also presents results for the sale of French short films and VR works outside France in 2020.

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"Portrait of a Lady on Fire"

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UniFrance has released the 2020 results for French feature films shown in foreign theaters, on digital platforms, and at ten international film festivals. This report also presents results for the sale of French short films and virtual reality (VR) works outside France in 2020.

According to the report, 746 French films were screened in theaters outside France, generating: 1.683 new releases, 16.1 million admissions, €101.7 million in box office receipts, and 77.2% of admissions attributed to French-language productions. International box office revenues for French films abroad declined by over 60%.

Three titles attracted over one million spectators, including the most successful majority-French production of 2020: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “An Officer and a Spy,” “The Specials,” “Les Misérables,” and “La Belle Epoque”. The most popular genres were comedies/dramatic comedies (32.6% of all admissions), dramas (24.4%), and animations (16%).

In terms of geographic regions, Western Europe accounted for 49.3% of all spectators for French films, followed by Central and Eastern Europe (20.9%), and Asia (13.3%). For the first time, Russia ranked as the leading market in terms of attendance figures, followed by two major European markets: Spain and Germany.

At the same time, 163 French productions were selected at ten major international film festivals, representing 19.5% of these festivals' total offer of titles in 2020. Among those, 128 were coproductions, with the main coproduction partners being Belgium and Germany. After French, the two languages the most widely spoken in films were English and Arabic.

In a record-breaking year, 1.126 French short films were exported. The country registered 2.709 sales and €722,348 were generated in sales revenue. 602 foreign buyers bet on French productions.

“It is not surprising that French films occupied a high position in the international market in 2020 in comparison with 2019. With a well-structured and well-supported industry in its home market, French cinema proved its capacity to adapt, demonstrating its influential role with distributors, exhibitors, and foreign media outlets,” the report says.

Since its first publication in 1994, the UniFrance annual report on French films has monitored and analyzed the figures for French productions in theaters outside France each year, with its content enriched and expanded over the years. In 2020, the number of international territories in which a comprehensive study of French film results was conducted rose to 70.

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