"Brice de Nice" is surfing the waves of success. With 3.6 million admissions to its credit, the film by James Huth, starring Jean Dujardin in the title role, claims the top spot at the French box office, rubbing shoulders with other comedies, thrillers and auteur films.
2005 will be no exception to the rule: the biggest hits are not always those expected to pull a crowd. The "Brice de Nice" phenomenon was certainly gathering momentum in the weeks preceding its release, particularly thanks to the Internet, but few could have imagined the film ousting the latest Clint Eastwood blockbuster with its four Academy Awards! Barely one month after its 550-print release on April 6, James Huth's second feature (after "Serial Lover") has attracted 3.6 million French spectators, to the great delight of its distributor TFM, who adds this latest win to a series of current triumphs, notably as regards French films. But credit must be handed to Jean Dujardin, the young actor first discovered on the small screen in short films such as "Un gars, une fille," who has now risen to star status with the cinematic debut of a character that he created himself in the café-theater scene some ten years ago. 1.4 million moviegoers turned out in the film's opening week to discover what has now become the cult language of Brice-Jean Dujardin, backed up in the film by Clovis Cornillac (Cesar in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor) and Elodie Bouchez. Produced by Mandarin Film on a budget of €5.3 million, "Brice de Nice" is sold internationally by TF1 International.
Although not reaching such impressive heights at the box office, several other French films have made their mark among the million-admissions scorers of recent weeks.
Also in the comedy vein, the debut film by Cécile Telerman, "Tout pour plaire" has won the hearts of close to 1.4 million spectators in France since its release March 16 by Diaphana on 318 prints. Giving top billing to three actresses who know how to please an audience – Judith Godrèche, Mathilde Seigner and Anne Parillaud – the film was produced by La Mouche du Coche and Les Films de la Greluche, with international sales handled by TF1 International.
In a different style altogether, Pascal Thomas has also hit the button with local audiences with his latest film, "Mon petit doigt m’a dit" ("By the Pricking of My Thumbs"). Released April 13 on 307 prints under the UGC Distribution banner, this screen adaptation of this Agatha Christie novel looks set to reach the million admissions mark mid May. Uniting the talents of André Dussollier and Catherine Frot – for whom this is their third collaboration with Pascal Thomas – "Mon petit doigt m’a dit" was produced by the director's production company, Ah! Victoria Production, with UGC International handling film sales.
Another film that should hit the million spectators mark by the end of its run is the new opus by Jacques Audiard, with the mysterious title "De battre mon cœur s'est arrêté" ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped"). Released March 16, also by UGC Distribution, the film had clocked up 860,000 admissions at the beginning of May. Bolstered by excellent word-of-mouth publicity, the film shows promise for a long and successful career. Produced by Why Not Productions, Jacques Audiard here directs Romain Duris and Aure Atika, and teams up again with actress Emmanuelle Devos, three years after the triumph of "Sur mes lèvres" ("Read My Lips"). The film has already been sold in numerous territories by Celluloid Dreams.
In the thriller genre, "Anthony Zimmer," the debut film by Jérôme Salle, has got off to a good start, with a stellar cast including Sophie Marceau and Yvan Attal. Distributed in 325 theaters by Mars Distribution, the film registered close to 500,000 admissions in 10 days and should continue at this fine pace. Produced by Fidélité and Alter Film, "Anthony Zimmer" is sold by StudioCanal. In the same vein, "L’ Empire des loups" ("Empire of the Wolves") by Chris Nahon, starring Jean Reno and produced and sold by Gaumont, posted 600,000 admissions after 15 days.
And finally, we can mention the fine performance of "Va, vis et deviens" ("Live & Become"), the new film by Radu Mihaileanu starring Roschdy Zem which, in spite of its 2½ hour length, has attracted around 300,000 spectators after one month on the screens. Distributed in France by Les Films du Losange, "Va, vis et deviens" is sold internationally by Films Distribution.
TOP 10 FRENCH FILMS RELEASED SINCE JANUARY 2005
||No. of prints*
||Box office (€ million)
|Brice de Nice
|The Emperor's Journey
|Tout pour plaire
|The Ex-Love of My Life
|The Beat That My Heart Skipped
|One Stays, The Other Leaves
|By the Pricking of My Thumbs
*number of prints in circulation at release date.