Gauls crown queen

'Amelie' reigns as 2001 box office monarch

PARIS — Less than a week before its U.S. debut, French smash “Amelie” has become French box office champion for 2001, pocketing $36,890,436 and trouncing previous leader “Would I Lie to You? 2.”

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s pic, at No. 13 at the B.O. in its 26th week, is enjoying remarkable receptions in foreign territories, grossing $6.1 million worldwide, with 20 more territories to go. Pic saw the best debut ever for a French film in the U.K. and Switzerland, while in Germany it was the third most successful French pic.

The feel-good romantic comedy starring ingenue Audrey Tautou has also won a string of prizes at the Toronto, Edinburgh and Karlovy Vary film fests and was recently chosen as France’s Oscar contender for best foreign-language film.

It has been a record year for Gallic films, which have outperformed many U.S. blockbusters in France and also broken records in the U.S., where they doubled last year’s grosses, bringing in nearly $17.5 million, in the first 10 months of 2001.

Miramax, which will release “Amelie” on Nov. 2, has brought many Gallic hits to American auds, including 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.

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