2008 was an exceptional year for French cinema, marked by Welcome to the Sticks' impressive 20 million admissions score. 2009 will also go down as a record year, as movie attendance in France rose by an estimated 5%.
French films' share of the home market is thus estimated at 37%, against 48% for American films.
Leading the pack of hit titles in 2009 is the screen adaptation of the successful comic series Le Petit Nicolas, directed by Laurent Tirard (5 million spectators), followed by LOL (3.7 million spectators), which once again shows Sophie Marceau's power to attract audiences. The latest episode of the Luc Besson trilogy, Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard, released just one month before the end of the year, has already clocked up 3.3 million admissions.
Hot on the heels of these three titles are other top performers, such as Coco, debut film by Gad Elmaleh which has crossed the 3 million admissions mark; OSS 117, Rio ne répond plus and Lucky Luke, both starring Jean Dujardin, which registered 2.5 million and 2 million admissions respectively; not to mention Incognito, which has attracted 1.3 million spectators.
The comedies Neuilly sa mère!, La Première étoile, and Les Beaux Gosses were surprise hits, pulling in 2.5 million, 1.6 million, and 0.9 million spectators respectively.
The starring duo of Welcome to the Sticks achieved success in a string of new releases in 2009: Dany Boon led the cast in De l'autre côté du lit (1.8 million admissions), Le Code a changé (1.6 million admissions), and Micmacs à tire-larigot (1.3 million admissions). Kad Merad took top billing in Safari (2 million admissions) and RTT (700,000 admissions after just 3 weeks on the screens).
Three auteur films attracted particularly large audiences in 2009. Le Concert by Radu Mihaileanu benefited from excellent word-of-mouth publicity and looks set to finish its run with 1.8 million admissions. Un prophète by Jacques Audiard, a multi-award winner at home and abroad, should boost its attendance figures even further after the Cesar Awards to reach 1.5 million spectators. Welcome by Philippe Lioret won over 1.2 million moviegoers eager to learn about the plight of Afghan refugees in the Calais "jungle."
Among other successful French titles, the following films topped 700,000 admissions: Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum, Coco avant Chanel, Dans la brume électrique, Le Hérisson, Tellement proches, L'affaire Farewell, Je l'aimais, and Le Vilain.