Wild Bunch takes Barratier’s ‘Buttons’

Thomas Langmann's La Petite Reine produces

Christophe Barratier will direct a new version of author Louis Pergaud’s “The War of the Buttons,” marking the second project based on the classic novel announced in France this year.

Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine, which made “Asterix at the Olympic Games” and the two-part “Mesrine,” will produce, along with Orange-owned Studio 37.

Wild Bunch will sell “The War of the Buttons” internationally. Stephane Celerier’s Mars Distribution will distribute in France. Canal Plus has taken French pay TV rights and broadcast network TF1 has nabbed free-to-air rights in Gaul.

Budgeted at €15 million ($20.6 million), “War” is fully financed and will start shooting in June, Langmann said.

Published in 1912, Pergaud’s pacifist “La guerre des boutons” is a family comedy about a play-war between two gangs of kids living in neighboring villages.

Barratier’s “War” will be set in rural France during the Nazi occupation in WWII.

“We want to set the movie during a tense period where the adult war reflects on the kids’ war,” Langmann added. He cited as inspiration the original “Buttons” novel and 1967 Michel Simon starrer “The Two of Us,” directed by Langmann’s father, Claude Berri.

The novel also gave Gallic film director Yves Robert one of the biggest hits of his career in 1962.

On Jan. 20, Paris-based TF1 Intl. announced it had acquired worldwide rights to its own version of “The War of the Buttons,” with Yann Samuell (“With Love From the Age of Reason”) at the helm and UGC Distribution set to release the pic in France.

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