“These are exceptional figures,” enthused Eric Garandeau of the national cinema centre (CNC), adding that they followed two other “exceptional” years, 2009 with 200 million entries and 2010 with 205 million.
2011 Top 10 Films (tickets sold in millions)
It was a good year for French film-makers, too. They took 41.6 per cent of the local market, up from 35.7 per cent the previous year.
Tickets sales for French films went up 21.4 per cent to 89.6 million, the most since 1984’s 94.1 million.
American films also attracted slightly more French viewers – a rise of 0.8 per cent to 99.2 million.
That meant that foreign films that were not American were the losers – down 22.6 per cent to 26.8 million.
Meanwhile in the US box office receipts fell 3.9 per cent, with sales down an even bigger 4.7 per cent, according to the Box-office Mojo site, as several films aimed at the teen target market failed to attract the expected audiences.
One film was responsible for making 2011 a record year in France – Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’sIntouchables, widely held to have made residents of the banlieue, the depressed outskirts of France's big cities, feel good about themselves.
Without its 15 million ticket sales would have been about the same as in 2009 and the French market share would have been lower.
Tickets sold (in millions)