Asterixcan it cross borders? Praised at international festivals, plagued by doubts at home, French cinema is still looking for a magic potion to export its blockbusters again.
Two projects carry the hopes of the tricolor this year: Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdomand the new version of Three Musketeersin three films, two of which will be released in 2023. The adventures of the Gaul Asterix will be the first, after their French release on February 1.
” Asterix and Obelixit’s a franchise that is known all over the world” and “the film is already sold almost everywhere”, except in China, underlines its director, Guillaume Canet. “I want it to be seen all over the world. , especially because, compared to French cinema, it would be great for a film of this size to work so that there are others, “he continues.
Sign of the interest that the film arouses, it has been pre-financed by Netflix, which will be able to distribute it abroad. Introspection never ends in French cinema, judged by some to be too self-centered. Last to shoot, the former Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot has a hard tooth in a balance sheet published at the beginning of January: “Direct subsidies, advances on receipts, tax exemptions, intermittency have created an assisted economy which not only does not worry little to the tastes of viewers, but professes an open contempt for ‘mainstream’ and profitable films,” she writes.
Because the post-Covid landscape is not encouraging for export: French films only had 27 million international admissions in 2022, i.e. slightly less than half of an average year on the past decade, according to figures published Tuesday by UniFrance, the organization responsible for promoting French cinema in the world. The situation is much better than in 2021 (+51.8%), but very far from the 56 million spectators reached on average over the decade, and even further from the 2014 record (120 million admissions).
“It’s a rather encouraging result with good momentum for 2023,” said Serge Toubiana, president of UniFrance. “The share of French cinema is not negligible” internationally, particularly in animation, he adds, welcoming “the very strong presence of French works in international festivals, and on platforms”, where France is the leading non-English-speaking country (6.5% of films).
French audiovisual should do better in 2023, promises the leader, with “popular films, comedies, films in costume”.
But, unlike South Korean cinema, very identified especially since the Palme d’Or ofParasite(2019), French cinema is “extremely varied. What is missing are spearheads that energize the market, as we had with Luc Besson”, diagnoses Serge Toubiana.
In the 2010s, this allowed French cinema to set records outside the borders, with in particular the science fiction film Lucyand its record of 56 million spectators abroad.
The director of Fifth Elementhowever, did not have as much luck in business: the mini-major he had created had a series of difficulties, as did his studios near Paris which had to compete with their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. As for French-language cinema, the records ofUntouchablesreleased in 2011 and which has accumulated nearly 32 million admissions, and “Fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain” (2001, 23 million spectators) seem far away.
As for auteur cinema, much decried, it nevertheless accumulates distinctions and marks of interest internationally, in particular for its directors: Palme d’Or to Julia Ducournau forTitaniumGolden Lion for Audrey Diwan andthe eventcritical interest for Alice Diop and her film “Saint Omer”… Some, like Céline Sciamma, whose “Portrait of the Young Girl on Fire” has become a reference feminist film, are now even seen by a larger audience at the abroad than in France.
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French cinema in search of a magic potion