A combination of strong homegrown cinema and big Hollywood blockbusters has veered the French film industry away from a crisis point.
Just a few months ago there was lots of head-scratching and consternation about the future of French cinema. Since the global pandemic, audiences hadn’t returned in the same numbers, with concern especially focused on the performance of homegrown French cinema, an essential cornerstone in preserving France’s cinematic national identity.
These concerns were compounded by worries about powerful streamers such as Disney and Amazon seeking to erode France’s commitment to producing and exhibiting mandated quantities of homegrown cinema. The country’s rigid theatrical exclusivity windows were being targeted, especially by Disney, who at one stage threatened to pull the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from French cinemas altogether.
Figures have now been compiled for the latter part of 2022 and for the most part, things look healthier.
With the first part of 2022 being complicated by pandemic-related issues, box-office takings were up considerably in the latter part of 2022 with profits coming in equally from US blockbusters and domestic titles, each of which contributed around 40% to the industry’s overall takings.
Whilst this news won’t fully solve the long-term issues facing the French film industry, the revelation that homegrown French cinema has once again been able to match the box-office of a host of Hollywood juggernauts such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Jurassic World Dominion will surely be a confidence boost and lead to renewed calls to reinforce the same protections for domestic cinema that the national film industry has long enjoyed.
This will likely be a story that we continue to revisit throughout 2023, but for now at least the French film industry seems to have navigated its way through a tricky period without forsaking the protectionist ideals that have long defined it.
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