The Boy And The Heron’ helps France’s November box office take flight

France’s box office bounced back in November following a downturn in September and October with 15.1 million ticket sales, a total gross of €108.8m based on an average ticket price of €7.2.

However, admissions were still down 19.6% from the pre-pandemic 2017-2019 average for the month.

It was enough to assure solid annual figures to date with ticket sales hitting upwards of 162.8 million admissions (€1.17bn), above 2022’s full year 152 million admissions but below the 2017-2019 pre-pandemic average of 208 million tickets per year. Estimates suggest 2023 will reach between 180-190 million.

The upswing comes after an abysmal September box office with just 8.8m ticket sales (€63.2m) and an October slump with 13.9 million tickets sold, down 3.9% from the same month in 2022.

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy And The Heron (Wild Bunch) topped the monthly charts with 1.4 admissions, to make it Europe’s biggest market for the animation film. It was followed by The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes (Metropolitan Filmexport) with 983,466 and local comedy Only Three Days Left (Studiocanal) with 950,000 in November

Vanessa Filho’s Consent sneaked up the charts to sell 306,644 tickets in November, a notable jump on its slow start with less than 60,000 tickets in its first week in theatres and just 142,354 in October for Pan Distribution,

Monia Chokri’s The Nature Of Love (Simple Comme Sylvain), that premiered at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in May, saw a strong arthouse opening for Memento Distribution with 175,000 tickets sold thanks to positive reviews and word of mouth.

Five Nights At Freddy’s (Universal) and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon (Sony) also made it to the top five titles.

The month was also fuelled by strong runs from local historical epic L’Abbe Pierre A Century Of Devotion (SND Films) as well as US titles The Marvels (Disney) Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Paramount), Trolls Band Together (Universal) and Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon (Paramount). The latter has now sold 1.24 million tickets in the territory for a gross of approximately €8m.

One notable underperformer is France’s Oscar entry for best international feature The Taste of Things (Gaumont) has sold just 190,000 tickets since its November 8 release.

By contrast, fellow Cannes premiere and awards season contender Anatomy Of A Fall (Le Pacte) has garnered 1.3 million admissions at home so far, a gross of approximately €9.5m.

Strike impact

Marc-Olivier Sebbag, executive director of France’s National Cinema Federation the FNCF, said the impact of the SAG-AFTRA strikes that prevented US actors from promoting their films and pushed the planned November release of Dune 2 into 2024, had an inevitable impact on the box office. He estimated the Warner Bros film would have added “3-5 million admissions minimum” to the monthly tally, while US films such as The Marvels suffered from a loss of key promotional moments.

While early November is typically strong in France due to national holidays and school breaks, mid- November through mid -December is “a crucial period” according to Eric Marti, general manager of Comscore France.

There is typically a dip in ticket sales during this time and, he says, “if the drop is steep, it can negatively impact annual results, but when it is moderate or level, that is when we see records broken.”

December has started strong with Disney’s Wish, to be followed by Warner Bros’ Wonka and Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom, Pathé’s The Three Musketeers- Milady and Universal’s animation Migration.

According to Sebbag, “Last year, the first three weeks of December were very bad, but Avatar: The Way of Water swooped in a saved the box office.

“This year, we saw a real reason to be optimistic with periods where things were back to how they were before. We’re not completely there, but if offer continues to remain strong and corresponds to what audiences want, we’ll be back. We’re on the right path.”


Source: REBECCA LEFFLER/Screendaily

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