Bird backers seek coin

'Penguins' march around proceeds

Hit nature docu “March of the Penguins,” waddled its way to a cool $77.5 million at the U.S. box office.

But to date not a cent of the proceeds have crossed the Atlantic, Yves Darondeau of Bonne Pioche, one of the film’s French producers, said in Cannes Sunday.

Now producer Bonne Pioche and Wild Bunch, which handled international sales, are mulling an audit of the pic’s U.S. distribution by Warner Independent, in the hope of getting a share of the B.O. windfall.

“We know they spent a lot of money on the film’s U.S. release — but not that much,” said Darondeau, who’s on the French Riviera to tout a bunch of new projects including helmer Luc Jaquet’s “Penguin” follow-up, the fictional kid’s tale “The Fox and the Child.”

“Unfortunately, an audit seems to be the norm in a case like this,” said Darondeau, whose partrners in Bonne Pioche are Christophe Lioud and Emmanuel Priou. “It’s always complicated trying to get any money back once you’ve sold a film to a U.S. distributor, however well it does at the box office.”

Ironically, the indie company that made the Antarctic-shot “Penguins” on a shoestring budget has been inundated with projects from filmmakers who assume it must be rolling in cash.

“We only want to make films that are something different, that have a story to tell,” said Darondeau, whose latest docu, the controversial mockumentary “Being Jacques Chirac” has drawn interest from oversees distribbers at the Cannes Market, where it made its world preem on Sunday.

Bonne Pioche is also developing “The Pink Soldier,” an animated kids film about supermarket toys that come to life when the store is closed. Project is being adapted from a pop album for kids by French music star Louis Chedid, with songs sung by Vanessa Paradis and other well-known French singers.

The music album comes out in Gaul in November, and the movie, co-helmed by Gallic animator Cyril Houplin and Francis Nelsen (“The Dog the General and the Birds”) will go into production in October.

Bonne Pioche is looking for a helmer for another project it is developing, “The Blue Book,” an Asia-set live-action film about a little girl who invents an imaginary world for herself.

A third Bonne Pioche endeavor is a reality Internet/movie project involving the international launch of a French pop group Amen Birdman. Project is being handled by the company’s recently opened New York office.

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