French B.O. Surges by 33% During First Five Months of 2023, Driven by Spike in U.S. Releases, Standout French Fare

Aside from its Palme d’Or for Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” the French cinema world is also celebrating the near-complete recovery of French box office after the pandemic.

Ticket sales are still 11.6 % down on the average levels of 2017 to 2019, but the good news is that the B.O. jumped by 33% with 82.38 million admissions during the first five months of 2023, according to the CNC (National Film Board).

The upward trend is driven by the spike in anticipated U.S. movies being released — they skyrocketed from 29 in 2022 to 51 in 2023 during the first five months, according to Comscore France. There’s also been a tide of successful French movies, ranging from big-budget, franchise-based movies like Guillaume Canet’s “Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom,” Philippe Lacheau’s “ 2” and Martin Bourboulon’s “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan,” to original fare like the Omar Sy starrer “Father and Soldier” and François Ozon’s 1950’s-set courtroom comedy “The Crime is Mine.” Maiwenn’s “Jeanne du Barry” starring Johnny Depp ranks as May’s fifth biggest hit with more than 550,000 admissions ($4.3 million) since its world premiere on opening night of the Cannes Film Festival.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” top with the B.O. so far this year with an estimated $54 million from 7 million admissions, and $40.9 million from 5.3 million tickets, respectively. But unlike last year, the 2023 chart isn’t entirely dominated by U.S. blockbusters — “Asterix and Obelix: the Middle Kingdom,” “ 2” and “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan” rank third, fourth and fifth.

Both from Pathé Films, “Asterix and Obelix: the Middle Kingdom” (produced by Les Films du Tresor and Les Enfants Terribles) and “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan” (produced by Chapter 2, a Mediawan company) grossed an estimated $35.4 million from 4.6 million admissions, and $24.6 million from 3.2 million admissions, respectively. “ 2,” the second installment of the comedy franchise handled by Studiocanal, meanwhile, grossed approximately $32.4 million from 4.2 million admissions.

“Asterix and Obelix: the Middle Kingdom” is the fifth movie inspired by the French comic books, while “The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan” is the first opus of a two-film saga based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic. Both star-packed films have budgets of approximately $70 million and were sold around the world.

France’s top 10 is completed by “Guardians of the Galaxy 3,” “Creed 3,” “Fast X,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Babylon,” which performed better than in other markets, according to Comscore France.

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