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Three of four smash hits in 2011 ensured a bumper year for French cinema. Asterix and Obélix: God Save Britannia was one of them. The other three box office draws were Taken 2, Intouchables and The Artiste.
UniFrance Films, which promotes French cinema outside France, says that French box office receipts doubled in 2012. 140 million people watched French films across the world – 88 % more than in 2011.
Regine Hatchondo, the executive director of Unifrance Films, said: “Sales this year have been very strong with lots of tickets sold and that’s due to great films. And the Unifrance mission is to promote French cinema as intelligently as possible – to organise the best conditions for selling and promoting French films when they come out in Europe and worldwide. So if we’re asking what the secret of their success, I’d say that it’s due to what French cinema represents internationally. It’s very diverse in terms of production; animation, documentaries, romantic comedies, psychological drama and also probably because French cinema questions what people think, about themselves and their place in the world. It’s not all just excitement and action.”
Director of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, said: “The real star of the film was, apart from the dog, Hollywood. And it’s true that for film fans all over the world, Hollywood represents iconic, a Mecca, so making a film on Hollywood, well that already makes it international.”
The Prix Lumières awards were presented to the cream of French cinema. Claudia Cardinale was honoured for lifetime achievement. The winners are selected by the international press based in Paris and rewards the best of French and French language cinema.
The best movie prize went to Michael Haneke for Amour. Both leading actors also won prizes at the Prix Lumiere and the film has also been nominated for 5 Oscars.
The French film industry has every reason to celebrate. With 875 million euros taken at the box offices outside France, plus a healthy home market, France confirms its leading place in European cinema and faces the future with optimism.