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High-speed premiere

Franco fans click on pic's Internet launch

Film fans in France last week were able to attend a premiere without leaving home, when “Le Fils du Francais” (The Frenchman’s Son) became the first French movie to premiere on the Internet, in advance of its Dec. 15 theatrical release.

The comedy, starring Fanny Ardant, was screened to 100 subscribers of World Online’s new high-speed service.

French TV station TF1, which co-produced the film, holds a stake in World Online, the Euro Internet service provider.

World Online’s managing director Jean-Michel Soulier said: “It’s the first time a film has been premiered officially on the Web in France. But by restricting access to the 100 or so subscribers of our new (high-speed) service — they practically all watched it — we knew we wouldn’t be diminishing the film’s box office earnings.”

World Online, which is present in 14 European countries, transmits live rock concerts, but is seeking opportunities to move into films.

“We have shown it can be done, and the demand is there,” Soulier said. World Online France is owned 65% by the Dutch company World Online Intl., 20% by France’s Bouygues Telecom and 15% by TF1.

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