The film world may still fawn over French cinema, but that doesn’t mean the French do.
France, in fact, appears to be growing pretty tired of its own films. According to a report (French link) released by French news outlet BFMTV this past Sunday (Sept. 29), the French are watching fewer and fewer movies made by their fellow countrymen. And the fallout is actually somewhat dramatic.
Back in the 1980s France was producing about half the number of films annually that it does now, and yet more people ventured out to support the country’s on-screen craft back then. Today, domestic films in France draw movie theater audiences that are about 35% smaller than they were three decades ago. The average french film in the 1980s was seen by some 443,746 cinema goers on average; today the number is less than 300,000.
The trend, however, isn’t afflicting the theater industry in France as the whole. For American-made films, viewership has increased by roughly 22% over the past 30 years; US films now draw more theater goers on average (595,918 people) than French ones.
The problem has something to do with the proliferation of French films. Although France currently produces some 300 films every year, they’re not getting much bang for their buck. Between 2001 and 2010, the proportion of domestic films seen by less than 50,000 people in France jumped from 51% to 60%.
France is particularly protective of its film industry. At least 40% of the content aired by local TV stations must be domestically produced, (pdf) and the country’s movie theater goers must pay tax on each ticket, which helps fund France’s film industry.