Homegrown films topped the box offices in France, Spain, Italy, the UK and Poland in 2011, marking a generally stellar year for European cinema.
French productions racked up a domestic market share of 41.6 per cent, the highest since 1966. In Italy, national releases grabbed 36 per cent of the market while Hollywood's share plunged from 60 per cent in 2010 to 48 per cent. Norwegian films posted the highest ticket sales in that territory in 36 years, accounting for nearly 25 per cent of the market.
In Germany, Teutonic films registered 18 per cent, led by Kokowaah, a romantic comedy starring, directed and co-written by Til Schweiger, which earned nearly $US43 million. It's the tale of a struggling scriptwriter who gets the chance to co-author a best selling novel with his ex-girlfriend. However, the seemingly healthy market share was boosted by contributions from several co-productions including The Three Musketeers, Roman Polanski's Carnage and David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.
In France, Intouchable (pictured), a comedy about a quadriplegic aristocrat and his black, socially awkward servant, easily won the 2011 B.O. crown, earning $145.8 million according to Box Office Mojo.
In second spot was Nothing to Declare, a comedy directed by and starring Dany Boon, focusing on two customs officers, a Frenchman and a Belgian, who are forced to work together when border posts are closed, earning $74.5 million. Other strong local performers included Maïwenn's Polisse (2.3 million tickets); Philippe Le Guay's Service Entrance aka The Women on the 6th Floor (2.27 million); Thomas N'Gijol, Fabrice Eboué and Lionel Stekete's comedy Back To Square One (1.8 million); Bibo Bergeron's animated A Monster in Paris (1.63 million); and Christophe Barratier's War of the Buttons (1.54 million).
Nine Italian films figured in the territory's top 20, led by Gennaro Nunziante's What a Beautiful Day, a comedy about a bumbling security officer, which grossed nearly $60 million.
Giulio Manfredonia's comedy Qualunquemente (Whateverly) pocketed $22.8 million, Paolo Genovese's thirtysomething comedy Immaturi (The Immature) scored $21.8 million and Fausto Brizzi's sequel Femmine Contro Maschi (Women Vs Men) took $16.7 million.
The Italian production and exhibition industries were especially gratified by those results in a market that suffered an 8 per drop in admissions and a 10.6 per cent fall in grosses last year.
"A new audience has emerged that we don't know as well," Ricardo Tozzi, president of the cinema and audiovisual industry association ANICA, told Cineuropa.
The market leader in Spain was the latest edition in the franchise centred on Santiago Segura's fumbling detective, Torrente 4: Lethal Crisis, which collected $29 million. However, the next highest local grossers ranked at No. 30 and 31, namely Carlos Therón's romantic comedy Fuga de cerebros 2 (which stars David Hasselhoff, of all people) with $6.5 million and Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In with $6.2 million.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2reigned in the UK, amassing $117 million, ahead of The King's Speech ($74.8 million) and The Inbetweeners Movie ($71.8 million).
In Poland, local romantic comedy Letters to St. Nicholas led the field with $11 million. Slovenian director Mitja Okorn's film centres on five women and five men who are all lost in life.
Ranked second was another rom-com (the most popular genre in the territory), Piotr WereÅ›niak's Och, Karol! 2, a remake of a 1985 hit about an incorrigible womaniser, which made $10.4 million.
In Norway, Morten Tyldum's thriller Headhunters ranked second behind Potter, fetching $8.9 million.
All of the above, with the possible exception of Spain, makes Australian films' market share of 3.5 per cent last year look rather pathetic.