2023 was a good year for French cinemas: The top ten films

French-made films also did well during a bumper year for post-Covid cinema seat sales

A view of two old-style cinema tickets in French, on a bed of popcorn
Cinema ticket sales recovered well in 2023, with France getting back to pre-Covid levels, unlike neighbours Italy and Spain - partly due to the popularity of French-made films
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As 2024 gets well underway, the French cinema industry is still basking in the glow of a successful 2023, after 181 million cinema seats were sold in the past 12 months - a figure close to the pre-Covid years.

Figures from the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC) show that the number of tickets sold for cinema seats rose by 18.9% compared to 2022 (152 million sold). This was despite rising living costs, and reports of bed bugs in some cinemas.

French films among most-watched

And French films were particularly popular.

“France has achieved the best recovery [post-Covid] of any comparable country, thanks to the diversity of the works on offer, particularly French ones,” said Dominique Boutonnat, chairman of the CNC, in a press release.

“Compared with some of our European neighbours, including Italy and Spain, which have not recovered to pre-Covid levels [and] French productions account for a significant proportion of admissions.”

The market share for French films in 2023 was a respectable 39.8%, the CNC said, just behind the market share for American films, which accounted for 41.3%.

Of the top 10 most-watched films in cinemas in France in 2023, three were French.

They were:

  • Astérix et Obélix: l’Empire du milieu (4.45 million tickets sold)
  • Alibi.com 2 (4.18 million)
  • Les Trois Mousquetaires – D’Artagnan (3.33 million).

Overall, the top 10 most-watched films in France in 2023 were:

  • Super Mario Bros. Movie (7.15 million tickets sold)
  • Barbie (5.8 million)
  • Avatar: The Way of Water (5.18 million)
  • Astérix et Obélix: l’Empire du milieu (4.45 million)
  • Oppenheimer (4.39 million)
  • Alibi.com 2 (4.18 million)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (3.45 million)
  • Les Trois Mousquetaires – D’Artagnan (3.33 million)
  • Elemental (3.15 million)
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2.8 million).
  • The year 2023 saw particularly high ticket sales during the traditional Printemps du cinéma and Fête du cinéma events, which recovered following the disruption of the Covid pandemic.

    The CNC stated: “[The 2023 edition of the Fête du cinéma] exceeded the pre-crisis level of 3.1 million over the four days (up 3.8%)”.

    However, cinemas did register a significant drop in ticket sales at the end of the year - around 20% below pre-Covid levels. This has been attributed partly to the Rugby World Cup, which took place in France from September 8 to October 28, 2023.

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