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News in brief

16 April 2004 à 12:16

The springtime of new generation French cinema

The latest at the French box office

With three debut films ("Les Choristes," "Malabar Princess" and "Une vie à t’attendre"), one second film and one third film ("Spybound" and "Immortel") lighting up the screens, French films are proving their vitality and ability to attract audience appeal.
Judging from results for the month of March, the rejuvenation of talent in the French film industry seems assured, considering that three first films shot to the top of the box office right from their release this month.

Let us begin with "Les Choristes," debut film by Christophe Barratier, known for his work as a producer with Galatée Films, including "Himalaya" by Eric Valli. Launched by Pathé Distribution on 326 prints, the novice singers backed up by Gérard Jugnot and François Berléand attracted close to 790,000 spectators in the film's opening week. To top this off, the film produced by Jacques Perrin for Galatée Films shows remarkable staying power, losing only 4% in its second week (with 522 prints in circulation).
In just two weeks, "Les Choristes" thus crossed the 1.5 million admissions mark in France, and these fine figures look set to continue rising with the upcoming school holidays, considering the family appeal of the film. This news will surely delight the numerous foreign distributors who have acquired rights to the film from Pathé International since its first screening at the Berlin Film Festival.

Another first film by a producer, "Malabar Princess" was directed by Gilles Legrand, who co-produced such high-profile films as "Ridicule" and "The Widow of Saint-Pierre" along with Frédéric Brillion for Epithète Films. This time, Legrand has opted for the director's chair, with Epithète producing, and once again he has a hit on his hands.

Released March 3 by Warner Bros. on 291 prints, "Malabar Princess" attracted 365,000 spectators in its opening week and reached the million admissions mark after hardly one month on the screens.
With a cast featuring Clovis Cornillac and Jacques Villeret and the young Jules Bigarnet, "Malabar Princess" should hit 1.5 million admissions before its run is out, since, once again, the school holiday period should give added impetus to this family-oriented film, sold by FPI.

"Une vie à t’attendre" is a first film that also came through with flying colors for director Thierry Klifa, who follows hot on the heels of his colleague, Marc Esposito ("Frenchmen,"1.6 million admissions), both former journalists with Studio Magazine. This debut film boasts an impressive cast headed by Nathalie Baye, Patrick Bruel and Géraldine Pailhas. Produced by the fledgling team from Les Films du Kiosque (François Kraus and Denis Pineau-Valencienne), it kicked off with 440,000 admissions from 317 prints released by Mars Distribution. After three weeks on the screens, the film sold by TF1 International had sold 730,000 tickets and looks sure to break the million admissions barrier in the weeks to come.

This brings us to another successful first film by a director from the writing profession: "Podium" by the author Yann Moix. The film starring Benoît Poelvoorde as an impersonator of French pop idol Claude François has pulled in 3.5 million spectators in 7 weeks (international sales: Wild Bunch).
It is worth mentioning that these four films stand out by their excellent Paris/provinces admissions ratio, proving that French audiences are highly active throughout the French territory, and not only concentrated in the capital city.

In another vein altogether, French moviegoers were offered the chance to discover a highly unusual genre on March 24, with the arrival of "Immortel (ad vitam)." This sci-fi film combines live-action and animated sequences, based on comic books by the film's director, Enki Bilal, for whom this is his third feature. With a cast of Linda Hardy, Charlotte Rampling and Thomas Kretschmann, this film produced by Charles Gassot (Telema) charmed 422,000 spectators in its opening week, with 400 prints released (UDF).
This is enough to excite the enthusiasm of TF1 International, who has supported the film for a number of years, since a project of this type necessitates an extremely lengthy production and post-production period. Even if its uniqueness makes it difficult to predict the film's success in theaters, we can already confirm that it was a risk well worth taking.

In another rather out-of-the-ordinary category for France, the spy film (an auteur film, nonetheless) "Agents secrets" (aka "Spybound") has also got off to a flying start. Released on 370 prints by TFM Distribution (the joint venture between TF1 and Miramax) the second film by Frédéric Schoendoerffer clocked up 65,000 admissions on its opening day on March 31, and is well on its way to surpassing 800,000 by the end of its run.
It must be said that the film's cast, led by France's movie scene glamour couple, Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, is hardly lacking in charm… The film was produced by Eric Névé (La Chauve-Souris) and is a continuation of the partnership between this producer and director, who have already teamed up for "Crime Scenes," Frédéric Schoendoerffer's debut film. And, as is the case for "Immortel," TF1 International is handling the film's international sales.

This explosion of new talent in the French film industry has by no means prevented the more experienced filmmakers from making their mark on the screens. A fine example is the new opus by Patrice Leconte, whose work rhythm remains as highly charged as ever. "Confidences trop intimes" ("Intimate Strangers"), starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Lucchini (produced by Les Films Alain Sarde), has tallied 750,000 admissions in one month, once again earning this director acclaim from critics and public alike (sales: StudioCanal).
"The Crimson Rivers 2" by Olivier Dahan and "Les 11 Commandements" by François Desagnat and Thomas Sorriaux, both released in February, are also pursing excellent runs, boasting 2 million and 3 million admissions respectively at the end of March.

All of this should boost French films' share of the home market, which, during certain weeks in March reached 65%, for a cumulated result of 41% since the start of the year - just a few points above the historic average. And if, as is usually the case in the lead-up to the Cannes Film Festival, upcoming weeks prove slow in terms of the number of French films released, we can still count on "Two Brothers," the latest film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, to capture a considerable share of the French market.


FilmReleasedNo. of printsAdmissionsBox office (€ million)
Podium *





Les 11 commandements *





The Crimson Rivers 2*





RRRrrrrr !





Les Choristes





* films still showing at the end of February, 2004

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Latest update : 26 June 2018 à 12:16 CEST