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Warner makes big push for ‘Sex’ in France

Cocktails, cupcakes create buzz for femme-skewing sequel

High fashion priestess Carrie Bradshaw’s comeback got a warm welcome from its French fans, topping the box office on opening day June 2 with $1.16 million at 525 locations.

The sequel was Warner Bros’ second-best French bow this year (behind “Clash of the Titans”), with 157,500 opening day admissions. It scored even better than the first installment, released by Gallic indie distrib Metropolitan Filmexport with a wider 750-location opening, which took $1.04 million on its first day.

Even the acerbic French reviews of “Sex and the City 2” didn’t discourage fans. Pic was unanimously described by French critics as “vulgar, cheesy and too bling bling” for local tastes. Michael Patrick King’s film underscored the presence in France of a growing market for female-skewed comedies. “Some of the biggest French hits so far this year have been Universal’s ‘Heartbreaker’ and Pathe’s ‘All that Glitters’: Two female-oriented comedies,” points out Lena Lutaud, journalist at Paris-based Le Figaro.

“Sex 2” also benefited from a buzz that started spreading in the French blogosphere, and on local TV newscasts and shows. Multiplex theater chains like CGR banked on the “Sex and the City-” mania to charge a premium fee of E10.50 ($12.70) per ticket for a special “Girl’s Night,” featuring the screening of the first movie and its sequel, and an alcohol-free cocktail.

Parisian fans also checked out the “Sex and the City” cafe set up by Warner Bros. in one of Paris’ trendiest neighborhoods. The chic cafe programmed two weeks of events, including cupcakes, knitting, beauty workshops and panels with popular authors including David Leibovitz, Dana Thomas and Heather Stimmler-Hall.

But Lutaud points out the word of mouth on the movie will be decisive. “The film might fill theaters for two to three weeks and wind down on admissions if the buzz isn’t good,” she says.

The first pic started out strong in France and ended with a solid, but not groundbreaking, $14.8 million gross. Moreover, Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t have a huge Gallic following. Her last two films — “Did you Hear About the Morgans” and “Smart People” — fared poorly.

“Sex 2” also saw good openings last week in the U.K. and Germany, and opened over the weekend in Spain. And with European women likely looking for a break from World Cup soccer on TV, the pic could get a boost regardless of snarky reviews.

Lauren Seligman contributed to this report.

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