Gallic pix gallop to a record $17.5 mil in U.S.

PARIS — It has been a record year for French movies at the U.S. box office. In the first 10 months of 2001, the top 10 Gallic pics have grossed nearly $17.5 million — twice as much as the whole of last year.

Upcoming releases like Jean Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie” and Arnaud Deplechin’s “Esther Khan” will see the total rise even further.

The figures released by Unifrance Wednesday mirror the success of French fare locally, spurred on by a string of smash hits like “Amelie” and Christophe Gans’ “Brotherhood of the Wolf.”

In the US., Miramax had the keenest eye for French fare, releasing Francis Weber’s comedy “The Closet,” which made more than $6.5 million, and Dominik Moll’s “With a Friend Like Harry,” which grossed nearly $3.8 million.

Patrice Leconte’s Juliette Binoche/Daniel Auteuil starrer “The Widow of St. Pierre,” released by Lions Gate, took in more than $3.2 million.

Francois Ozon’s Winstar-released “Under the Sand,” starring Charlotte Rampling, grossed $1.4 million, while Agnes Jaoui’s Oscar-nominated “The Taste of Others,” released by Offline, made $713,571.

Remainder of the French top 10 were Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Crimson Rivers” ($615,130); Raoul Peck’s “Lumumba” ($613,693); Virginie Despentes’ “Baise moi” ($251,279); Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s “Drole de Felix” ($193,736); and Stephane Lifshitz’s “Presque rien” ($100,624).

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