WB acquires rights to French B.O. success

Warner Bros. and Overbrook Entertainment have acquired the rights to remake “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” the comedy that broke box office records in France earlier this year.

Will Smith and James Lassiter will produce with Ken Stovitz. Pathe Intl. controlled rights to the film.

The original is a hicks-in-the-sticks tale about a post office manager who has a nice outpost in the South of France but ends up banished to a rainy town in northern France, where he finds the local patois unintelligible.

The Dany Boon-directed film grossed more than $190 million in France alone.

The pic will be developed by WB under the title “Welcome to the Sticks.”

“There are only 65 million people who live in France, and $191 million seemed to defy all logic. But when we saw the film, it’s obvious why it works,” Stovitz said. “We will probably place the character in a global corporation, and he literally gets sent to the sticks, but finds that rather than a backward place, it provides all that was missing in his life.”

Overbrook has been in overdrive, as Smith and Lassiter’s recent credits include the July 2 opener “Hancock,” the Jada Pinkett Smith-directed “The Human Contract,” the Sept. 19 opener “Lakeview Terrace,” Oct. 17 opener “The Secret Life of Bees” and the Gabriele Muccino-directed “Seven Pounds,” which stars Smith and opens Dec. 12.

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