French B.O. Up 11.4% Over First Half of 2014

PARIS — Bolstered by the smash hit comedy “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” France’s box office was up 11.4% to 106.6 million admissions and an estimated $916 million during the first half of 2014, according to the National Film Board, CNC.

Over the last 12 months, French theaters attracted 204 million moviegoers, up 3.6% on the previous year.

Whereas 2013 was marked by a lack of French blockbuster, this year saw a pair of homegrown hits which nabbed the first two slots of the box office: Philippe de Chauveron’s laffer “Serial (Bad) Weddings” (TF1, B.O.: $84.7 million) and Dany Boon’s comedy “Supercondriaque” (Pathe, B.O.: $45 million).

These two movies also helped drive up the share of French movies to 48.5%, compared with 37% in 2013. The share of American pics, meanwhile, fell from 49% to 41.6%.

So far in 2014, only four U.S. pics rank in France’s top 10: Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Rio 2,” Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and Disney’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Aside from  “Serial (Bad) Weddings” (“Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon dieu”) and “Supercondriaque,” the other high-grossing Gallic films were also comedies: Wild Bunch’s “Les trois freres, le retour” (“Three Brothers: The Return”) directed by Didier Bourdon; “Babysitting,” a $2.7 million high-concept comedy directed by Philippe Lacheau and Nicolas Benamou; and Pascal Bourdiaux’s “Fiston” (“The Date Coach”), produced by well-established outfit LGM. “Babysitting” and “Fiston” were released in France by Universal and SND, respectively.

Pathe’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Christophe Gans’ bigscreen adaptation of the classic story starring Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel, also fared well, grossing an estimated $15.6 million.

“Serial (Bad) Weddings” stars Christian Clavier and Chantal Lauby, as narrow-minded parents from the French upper class who disapprove of their four daughters’ choice of multi-cultural spouses — a Jew, an Arab, an Asian and a black man. Although the movie is a commercial success, it has been criticized by many for perpetuating racist stereotypes and feeding into France’s ambient xenophobia.

TF1 Intl. has sold the pic to Russia (Cinema Prestige), Quebec (AZ Films), Portugal (Outsider Films) and Germany (Neue Visionen) which will release the movie on July 24.

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