In only 10 months of 2001, French-language films’ total at the U.S. box office is twice that of the whole of 2000. It is clear that French cinema is heading for a bumper year, with at least 4 titles raking in over a million dollars in box office receipts, three of which have already earned more than $3 million!
Overall earnings in North American theaters between January and October 2001 have so far reached $17.5 million; French-language films are enjoying an unprecedented success. This figure corresponds to 3.3 admissions up until October 22, by far the best performance achieved by French-language films in the United States since 1994 (the first year when statistics became available).
Three films have already topped the 3 million dollar mark: “The Closet” by Francis Veber ($6.5 million); “Harry Is Here to Help” by Dominik Moll ($3.8 million); “The Widow of Saint Pierre” by Patrice Leconte ($3.2 million). François Ozon’s “Under the Sand” ($1.2 million) is also a contender. From the ranks of more limited releases there have been some outstanding successes including “The Taste of Other People” by Agnès Jaoui, “Lumumba” by Raoul Peck, “Rape Me” by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi. Not to mention Jacques Rivette’s “Who Knows” and Catherine Breillat’s “Fat Girl”, both of which have got off to a great start on the North American circuit.
But it’s not over yet, for much can be expected from the upcoming releases of “Esther Kahn” and “Amelie from Montmartre”. 2000 and 2001 will incontestably be years in which a higher number of French films have been seen on American screens than ever before – around 60 titles each year. 29 releases are already programmed for 2002.
2001 has also been a vintage year for French foreign-language productions and coproductions, thanks mainly to Chris Nahon’s “Kiss of the Dragon” ($36.7 million), followed, far behind, by Jean-Marie Gaubert’s “Just Visiting” ($4.8 million), “Himalaya” by Eric Valli ($2.2 million), and “Intimacy”* by Patrice Chéreau, “Our Lady of the Assassins” by *Barbet Shroeder and “Vertical Ray of the Sun” by Tran Anh Humg.
It should be noted that French foreign-language productions generally show a fluctuating position on the market. This trend can be linked to the years when French big budget productions shot in English were released in the United States (“The Fifth Element”, “Joan of Arc”, “The Ninth Gate”, etc.).
* Still on release