‘La Famille Belier’ Shaping Up as Gallic Breakout

High expectations for Eric Latigau’s dramedy outside France

Shaping up as a Gallic Christmas breakout, “La Famille Belier,” the latest film from Eric Lartigau (“The Big Picture”), grossed a first-day €765,000 ($939,688), distributed by Mars Films.

The $939,688 trawl is the 10th best first-day box office for a French film this year, per French box office site CBO Box Office.com.

The bow in France is bigger than that of three of its most recent sleepers: Gaumont’s “Belle and Sebastian,” which went on to gross €19.3 million ($23.7 million), becoming the second biggest French hit of 2013; “On the Other Side of the Tracks” ($17.6 million); and “Babysitting” ($18.6 million).

Greeted as a crowd-pleaser by the French press – ‘This family-friendly social comedy has a ‘Billy Elliot’ feel,” said Premiere, for instance – “La Famille Belier,” now looks likely to expand in its second week, per SND-M6 Group, its international sales agent.

Produced by Jerico and Mars Films, the dramedy ticks multiple boxes. Its out-of-the gate perf rolls off buzz from 80 premieres across France and the Audience Award at Sarlat.

It stars a top-notch French-speaking cast, led by two admired character actors — Belgian Francois Damiens (“Nothing To Declare”) and Karin Viard (“On Air”).

Centering on a family whose members are all deaf, save for the daughter, Paula, who takes part in and wins the most prestigious singing prize which means leaving her family and moving to Paris, “The Belier Family” is largely set in Normandy – and for a film to really catch fire in France, it has to work in the provinces.

A feel-good dramedy – like “The Intouchables” before it — “La Famille Belier” has also punched robust pre-sales, sometimes to some of the biggest distributors in Europe, such as eOne Films U.K. and Concorde in the crucial territory of German-speaking Europe, where French comedies can really catch fire.

Their caliber is feeding large expectations for “La Famille Belier’s” performance outside France. Opening simultaneously in French-speaking Belgium, via Belga) and Switzerland, via Praesens, the movie starts its international releases this month.

“’La Famille Bélier’ opens all over Latin America during the holidays. Working with top notch distributors — Germany’s Concorde, Spain’s Vertigo, Australia’s Palace, Klockworx in Japan, Portugal’s Lusomundo, “We are confident ‘La Famille Bélier’ has a bright future ahead,” said Lionel Uzan, SND, director of acquisitions and international sales.

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