Pic pocketed $28.7 mil in seven days

It seems like almost everyone in Gaul made time to hang with their buddies last week, judging by the record-breaking first-week perf of Patrice Leconte’s laffer “Les bronzes 3: amis pour la vie” (“Friends Forever”).

Pic, which bowed on 950 screens, pocketed just under e24 million ($28.7 million) in the seven days from Wednesday to Tuesday and added another $2.8 million on Wednesday for a $31.5 million, eight-day total.

Ticket sales shot up 174% compared with the week before and 108% compared to the same period last year.

“Les bronzes 3″ sold more than 3.9 million tickets in its debut week, coming in just under distrib Warner Bros. France’s 4 million prediction.

The film’s boffo perf unseated previous record-holder “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” which sold 3.68 million in its first week.

Pic is the long-awaited third installment of cult franchise “Les bronzes.” What makes its perf astonishing is that the last installment bowed 27 years ago, yet public awareness of the film was at 99% before the first ticket was sold.

The first two films — “Les bronzes” and “Les bronzes font du ski” — followed friends on vacation at a Club Med and then on a ski holiday.

Warners ran a $1.8 million P&A campaign and Gallic web TF1, pic’s co-producer, programmed its annual re-run of “Les bronzes font du ski” the night before pic bowed.

Other Gallic webs got into the act with retrospectives of the buddies.

That some ticket buyers weren’t even alive when the first two films opened shows a profound depth of market penetration of the cult films.

“Friends Forever” reunites the cast –Thierry Lhermitte, Joisane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Gerard Jugnot (star of “Les choristes”) Marie-Anne Chazel and Christian Clavier — for another vacation, this time in Sicily.

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