Sunday, 10 May 2009

Parlez vous francais?

We're heading off to a mini-holiday in France tomorrow and it got me thinking about the state of the French film industry. Held as an example around the world, the French model largely subsists due to an amazing exhibition sector.

Below is a comparison of some key figures that highlight the differences between French and UK exhibition sectors. Note how France has a higher percentage of national films, independent cinemas, fewer multiplexes and finally 16 million admissions per year more than the UK.

Population 64 million
Admissions 178 million
Number of Multiplexes 164
Screens 5362 Screens 3514
Percentage of French Films 35.6 %

United Kingdom
Population 60 million
Admissions 162 million
Number of Multiplexes 265
Percentage of UK Films 28.5% (includes UK/US co-productions)
(2007 figures)

The French market is distinguished from the UK by the significance of the vertically integrated national players within it. All three principal exhibition circuits are in fact also present in the distribution sector, where they are solidly established, with a cumulative market share of over 30%. The maintenance of the positions of the three circuits protects the market against the penetration by US players into all segments of the film industry, as is the case in the UK (MEDIA Salles Country Profiles, 1992).

When we were in Paris last year we were amazed at the sheer size and scope of the amount and variety of films available to see on any given day in the capital. Around 300 different features play on any given day, in an incredible collection of cinemas, from small arthouses to huge multiplexes. Viva la France!


  1. A little bit of good old French protectionism could have a role in creating those figures!

  2. Yes. And there is nothing wrong with that. I guess what the current crisis has shown is that too much free market is not necessarily a good thing. But there are other factors: the figures above show higer admission figures, which is a cultural rather than economic trend, and the fact that the government has not oved to separate distribution from exhibition, as it did in America an in the UK.