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France

Pathe

B.O CUME 2008: $179 million*

TOPPERS: Jean Claude Borde, director; Henri Demoulin, director; Justine Renard, head of marketing

UP NEXT: “Faubourg 36” (September), “Blindness” (October), “Public Enemy Number One: Part 1″(October), “Public Enemy Number One: Part 2” (November), “The Duchess” (November)

In a medal competition for European B.O. distributor perf this year, France’s Pathe Distribution would surely take gold, Usain Bolt-style.

With 30.1 million tickets sold through Aug. 12, repping around $179 million gross, Pathe’s B.O. haul trumps its nearest competitor, Paramount Pictures France (12.1 million tickets sold).

Powering Pathe’s extraordinary run are two Gallic blockbusters, Dany Boon’s “Bienvenue chez la Ch’tis” (20.3 million admissions), now the most-seen French movie ever in France, and “Asterix at the Olympic Games” (6.8 million tickets).

Owned by Jerome Seydoux, Pathe has business fundamentals that also remain strong: Marketing remains relatively cheap in France. Even more vertically integrated than U.S. majors, Pathe produces and co-owns the EuroPalaces theater loop. So once a movie recoups its P&A, it really hits paydirt.

And it has potential home runs this fall: feel-good ’30s workers’ theater tale “Faubourg 36” and gangster pic “Public Enemy Number 1,” parts 1 and 2, with Vincent Cassel giving a buzzed-about career-defining performance.

*through Aug. 12

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