Only 50 million people went to see French films in cinemas outside France during 2013, official figures released on Friday showed.
A total of 480 films were exported, earning 280 million euros.
The year compares poorly with 2012 when 144.1 million people watched French films, earning 68 per cent more than in 2013.
But there was good news from China, where just six films clocked up 5.2 million viewers, pushing the People's Republic into France's second cinematic market behind the US, where audiences reached 7.5 million.
2012 was an exceptional year, thanks to Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist and The Intouchables by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, but 2013 sank to a low not reached since 2004.
Last year only Luc Besson's Malavita won more than five million viewers outside France.
The year's biggest critical sucess, lesbian love story Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adèle) by Abdellatif Kechiche, won a Palme d'Or at Cannes but nothing at the Golden Globes and has not even been proposed for an Oscar because it came out too late to be nominated as best foreign film.
It has been sold to 130 countries, however, and some other French films have picked up Oscar nominations, notably Ernest and Célestine by Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier in the animated feature section.
The figures was published as promoters launch the fourth year of MyFrenchFilmFestival.com, a month of free French film online with 10 feature films and 10 shorts available to the public.
Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is the first offering.