‘La Famille Belier’ Consolidates at French Box Office

French dramedy plays off upbeat world-of-mouth

Following up a sturdy first-day bow in France, Eric Lartigau’s “La Famille Belier” honed its credentials as one of the French comedies of 2014-15 with a first five-day €4.4 million ($5.4 million) off 690,2014 ticket sales.

In a Dec. 17-21 frame still dominated by holdover “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies,” which punched 891,254 admissions in its second weekend for a $25.5 million cume, the Mars Distribution-distribbed “La Famille Belier” ranked second, ahead of “The Penguins of Madagascar.”

Drawing comparisons with “Billy Elliot,” “La Famille,” sold internationally by SND-M6 Group, centers on a 16-year-old girl whose parents and brother are deaf. Discovering she has a marvelous singing voice, she dreams of a career in singing, which would mean moving to Paris from Normandy, and leaving her family, which is unable to appreciate her gift.

“After an extensive campaign of previews and excellent audience reaction as well as a very supportive press, a cume of 700,000 admissions after the first weekend is not an outstanding result,” said Eric Marti at Rentrak.

However, he added, “The film should benefit from two major assets: A (very) good word of mouth — when you know that the audience grew by approximately 25% from Saturday to Sunday, this is already happening – and no competition at all in its category of feel good family entertainment.

“Considering the coming two weeks of vacation, we can already see ‘La Famille Belier’ as a success that will cume close to or above 3 million admissions,” Marti added.

That would put “La Famille Belier” in the top five French bows of 2014, trailing only “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” which went on to $96.0 million, distribbed by UGC Distribution in France; Dany Boon’s “Superchondriac,” from Pathe ($41.3 million); Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” with Scarlett Johansson, handled by EuropaCorp Distribution; and, possibly, Gaumont’s “Samba” ($24.4 million), Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s follow-up to the “The Intouchables,” again starring Omar Sy.

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