French giant to produce and distribute Boon's movies

MADRID — Euro movie giant Pathe has inked with Gaul’s Dany Boon to jointly produce and distribute the three next movies written and directed by the French comedian.

The pact formalizes a film-by-film relationship and, for Pathe, ties down France’s biggest marquee name of recent times.

Boon penned, helmed and co-starred in 2008 B.O. phenom “Welcome to the Sticks,” the highest-grossing and second most-seen movie ever in France, punching an extraordinary hometurf Euros 125 million ($171.1 million) gross box office and 20.49 million admissions, just below “Titanic’s” 20.63 million.

Added to Boon’s debut, the 2006 “Dreamhouse,” which grossed $9.6 million, Boon rates after Peter Jackson as the second biggest B.O. director in France over 2001 to 2011.

What’s more, “Sticks” also revealed a considerable audience outside France for select upscale Gallic comedies, grossing north of $53 million abroad, principally in Germany, Italy and Spain, placing it in the Top Ten of Europe’s biggest B.O. hits by worldwide gross.

Pathe and Boon have tied the knot as Boon’s latest comedy “Nothing to Declare,” which pre-dates the three-picture deal, opened Wednesday in Belgium and Northern France.

A rose-tinted romantic comedy, set on the France-Belgium border in a 1993 chockablock with redolent retro detail, “Declare,” like “Sticks,” once more lambasts prejudice, turning on a cowed French customs officer (Boon) illicitly dating the sister of his rabidly anti-French Belgium counterpart (Benoit Poelvoorde).

Much-awaited and enthusiastically Twittered from sneak previews, though not critically acclaimed, “Declare” goes nationwide in France Feb. 2.

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