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Highlights - 22/07/2016

 

Germany and France: Cinema overview for the first six months of 2016

 

The first half of the year is over. Here, we take a detailed look at how films have performed in cinemas in the two largest markets in Europe.  The biggest successes in recent months include TOMORROW, ROBINSON CRUSOE, THE DANISH GIRL, CHOCOLAT and SWEET BEAN.

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National and American films dominate the box office

In France about ten films have achieved admissions of more than 2 million, with almost 5 million film lovers having seen ZOOTOPIA and LES TUCHE 2. At the top of the rankings, only two films, THE REVENANT and HATEFUL EIGHT, are not family or superhero films, or sequels. To a lesser extent, the return of Stallone in one of his iconic roles, ROCKY BALBOA, deserves a mention for CREED.

The top four films in the rankings (ZOOTOPIA, LES TUCHE 2, THE REVENANT and DEADPOOL) have recorded more than 7000 admissions per copy (number of copies in the first week), a good indication of the public’s enthusiasm. Further down the rankings, just two films rival this figure. The documentaries TOMORROW and MERCI PATRON! were both word-of-mouth successes and received lots of attention in the press. Respectively, they attracted 1,081,000 and 503,000 spectators, that is, 7000 and 13,500 cinemagoers per copy.

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In Germany, the top of the rankings is very similar with ZOOTOPIA (re-baptised ZOOMANIA), dominating the half-year with 3.5 million viewers.

Aside from highly commercial, big budget films, THE REVENANT (2.8 million) and HATEFUL EIGHT (1.25 million) also stand out. Films by the Coen brothers (HAIL, CAESAR!) and Todd Haynes (CAROL) saw more modest success in France and Germany. They are a reminder that films from American auteurs are far from being guaranteed admissions above the one-million threshold.

Two documentaries also saw success in Germany. HE NAMED ME MALALA (US) by David Guggenheim, released at the end of 2015, attracted more than 60,000 filmgoers per copy. The German film OUR LAST TANGO achieved admissions of 45,000. This was 7,000 more than in France, where it was also widely disseminated, especially in the Europa Cinemas network.

A better circulation abroad for French films

In France, the two most phenomenal recent national films are the two documentaries mentioned above. The success of TOMORROW, built up over time, perhaps paved the way for MERCI PATRON! Protests over employment law probably helped too. TOMORROW has already been released or announced in around ten European countries. It has been very successful in Belgium and Switzerland, with more mixed results in Germany. For the time being, the international career of MERCI PATRON! is limited to Belgium and Switzerland.

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TOMORROW was partially financed through crowdfunding. Some of its success (more than one million cinemagoers) is probably due to Internet users and film lovers involved with Colibris - an environmental movement co-founded by one of the filmmakers, Cyril Dion. Over time however, the film’s success has grown, to the extent of becoming a social phenomenon.

With more than one million admissions, SEASONS is the third documentary to note this period. It achieved almost three times fewer admissions than Jacques Perrin’s previous hits, OCEANS and WINGED MIGRATION, and will be released in around 15 European countries.

Four French films deserve a mention for their performance. Carried by its two main actors, CHOCOLAT has attracted almost 2 million filmgoers in France and is on release in a large majority of European countries. IRREPLACEABLE, with 1.5 million admissions, generally strengthens and surpasses director Thomas Lilti’s previous success, HIPPOCRATES. Another word-of-mouth hit, THE INNOCENTS has impressed art house audiences, with 702,000 spectators (almost 5000 per copy). BELLE AND SEBASTIEN, THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES attracted 1.8 million viewers, compared with 3 million for part one.

A number of films shown at Cannes have already been released in cinemas. Of these, SLACK BAY and ELLE have achieved 500,000 admissions. THE RED TURTLE was released more recently and is performing respectably with ticket sales expected to pass 200,000.

A first feature film and winner of the Europa Cinemas Label in Venice is also performing well. AS I OPEN MY EYES has achieved almost 100,000 admissions. It will be released in Germany on September 22.

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In Germany, children’s films have been the biggest national hits. The adventures of the two budding detectives Rico and Oskar are highly bankable and the third film (PASTA DETECTIVES 3) has attracted more than 335,000 cinemagoers. Their teenage rivals Bibi and Tina, who are also on their third film (BIBI & TINA 3 – MADCHEN GEGEN JUNGS), are way ahead with 2 million viewers, as is HEIDI with 1,200,000 admissions. 

German art house films have seen more limited success. THE COLONY attracted 250,000 film enthusiasts before it was released in a number of other European countries, sometimes directly to DVD. STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE was selected at Locarno and has achieved 150,000 admissions. It is due for release in France on August 10. Two comedies, DER GEILSTE TAG (1,660, 000 admissions) and I’M OFF THEN (1,860,000) have been particularly successful with German cinemagoers. Both films feature young men in a fragile state of health who decide to make the most of life or find meaning by setting off on a journey or pilgrimage.

Circulation of European films: children’s films dominate 

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Like HEIDI, the best non-national European film so far this year (almost 700,000 admissions), the biggest European hits in France have been children’s films. OOOPS! NOAH IS GONE and ROBINSON CRUSOE achieved 550,000 and 356,000 admissions respectively. The latest films from well-known European directors (Almodóvar, Moretti, Hooper) and a few films representing the diversity of European cinema (THE WHITE KNIGHTS, RAMS, BROOKLYN) complete a list relatively lacking in European hits. Few films have been released on more than 100 copies.

In contrast, a good number of European films on limited release have found an audience (and are achieving a respectable average number of admissions per copy). These include RAMS, NO LAND’S SONG and THE MAN WHO MENDS WOMEN: THE WRATH OF HIPPOCRATES.

The picture in Germany is similarly dominated by films for young audiences. Belgium’s ROBINSON CRUSOE by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen achieved 650,000 admissions and THE LITTLE PRINCE by Mark Osborne attracted 307,000 cinemagoers. The Spanish film CAPTURE THE FLAG is currently achieving good results with more than 95,000 admissions in four weeks. A French film, ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, featuring a group of schoolchildren, has also achieved almost 120,000 admissions. 

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The German public has a special place in its heart for French films. The big European success of the year has been Eric Besnard’s SENSE OF WONDER (Birnenkuchen mit Lavendel) 

with more than 550,000 admissions. The film has been wowing audiences for 17 weeks now, which is somewhat unexpected in view of its more modest performance in France. This is another success story for Neue Visionen, distributor of these two latest titles, following the success of PAULETTE and SERIAL (BAD) WEDDINGS in recent years. MUSTANG, winner of the Europa Cinemas Label in Cannes in 2015, has also found its audience, attracting 106,000 film lovers.

A number of English films have proved successful with audiences. These include THE DANISH GIRL (380,000 admissions), SUFFRAGETTE (280,000) and THE LADY IN THE VAN (70,000). The Irish film BROOKLYN can be added to this list (185 000). Two comedies have also performed well: the Swedish A MAN CALLED OVE (400,000) and THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT (390,000, Belgium).

The sweet taste of diversity 

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The picture would not be complete without mentioning a few other success stories. SWEET BEAN, a film by Naomi Kawase, achieved its best result in France. 300,000 viewers enjoyed the film and perhaps one of the many culinary events organised in cinemas. The film performed relatively well in Germany with 66,000 admissions.

It was a different story for THE ASSASSIN, a flop in Germany but a success in France with 200,000 admissions. THE CLAN and NAHID also delivered the goods in France with 100,000 admissions, while a number of Turkish comedies achieved good results in Germany. There were 126,000 admissions for OSMAN PAZARLAMA and 65,000 for KOCAN KADAR KONUS DIRILIS and KARDESIM BENIM. During the most recent period however, the best Turkish film, DÜGÜN DERNEK 2, has achieved 236,000 admissions since its release on December 3, 2015 (71,000 of these in 2016). This is a rapid success as the film was released the day before its release in Turkey! 

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Raphaëlle Gondry, Jean-Baptiste Selliez – July 2016

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Pictures from top: TOMORROW, OUR LAST TANGO, ELLE, HEIDI, RAMS, THE SENSE OF WONDER, SWEET BEAN 

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