French contemporary cinema  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
French cinema, New French Extremity, Cinema du look, contemporary cinema

As the advent of television threatened the life of cinema itself, countries were faced with the problem of reviving cinema-going. The French cinema market, and more generally the French-speaking market, is smaller than the English-speaking market, one reason being that some major markets such as the United States are fairly reluctant to import foreign movies. As a consequence, French movies have to be amortized on a relatively small market and thus generally have budgets far lower than their American counterparts, ruling out expensive settings and special effects. Interestingly, the once prospering filmmaking industry of countries such as Italy has now largely been eliminated. The French government has therefore implemented various measures aimed at supporting local film production and movie theaters, including:

  • the Canal+ TV channel has a broadcast license imposing that it should support the production of movies;
  • some taxes are levied on movies and TV channels for use as subsidies for movie production;
  • some tax breaks are given for investment in movie productions;
  • the sale of DVDs and videocassettes of movies shown in theaters is prohibited for six months after the showing in theaters, so as to ensure some revenue for movie theaters.


  • The rural comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis attracted over 20 million visitors in 2008, the first French film to do so. Its US$ 193 million gross in France alone puts it just behind Titanic as the most successful film of all time in French theaters, and is arguably the highest any film has ever made in a single country outside the U.S. (perhaps only by the Japanese animated film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which made US$ 153 million in Japan alone in the same year).

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