WB to re-release kudos favorite for bigger box office bump

Capitalizing on awards buzz on both sides of the Atlantic, Warner Bros. has rereleased Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” in France more than three months after its initial outing — a rare practice in Gaul.

“The Artist” is up for 10 Oscars on Sunday and 10 Cesars, the Gallic film awards, on Friday.

Rolling off “The Artist’s” Golden Globes wins, Warner Bros. aimed big, re-releasing the film Jan. 25 on 362 prints — roughly as many playdates as its initial October release. It also bowed a new marketing campaign with the tagline, “The film that’s enchanting America.”

Homevideo and VOD releases, which were initially programmed for Feb. 12, were pushed back by a month to give exhibitors an additional window of exclusivity, said Emmanuel Durand, Warner Bros. France’s VP of marketing.

The strategy has proven highly effective: As of Wednesday, “The Artist” has cumed €13 million ($17.2 million), including an estimated $2.9 million from 500,000 admissions since Jan. 25.

It’s the biggest award-related B.O. bump ever scored by a film in France.

Warner Bros. plans to expand to 488 playdates next week, in anticipation of Oscar and Cesar kudos.

Durand said the pic’s B.O. success had beaten the studio’s expectations.

“With this second release, we’ve been able to attract different crowds and reach the rural and suburban audiences, which traditionally take longer to turn up at theaters,” he said.

Over the past 10 years, only a handful of Cesar contenders — notably Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One” and Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” — have been relaunched and none matched the scale of “The Artist’s” bigscreen comeback.

According to Emmanuel Montamat of La Petite Reine, which produced “The Artist,” the theatrical upside from awards nominations usually varies between 100,000 and 150,000 admissions.

” ‘The Artist’ has received such worldwide acclaim that people who haven’t yet seen it are curious to watch it while others want to rediscover it,” he said.

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