‘Rape’ posts strong B.O. in France

Soccer sucks viewers away from cinema.

PARIS — The ongoing Euro 2000 soccer championships have had a dramatic effect on cinema attendance in France, causing it to plunge 50% every time a match is shown on TV.

But when the choice is between watching soccer or the sexually explicit and extremely violent French film “Rape Me,” that’s different. “Rape Me,” which went up against the France-Portugal semifinal Wednesday, scored the highest screen average on its opening day, earning $30,000 on just 64 screens.

While it opened the same day on 211 screens, the American movie “The Skulls” took in just under $73,000.

French critics were divided, however, about the artistic merits of “Rape Me”, co-directed by cult French author Virginie Despentes and porn actress Coralie Trinh Thi.

Excusing its technical shortcomings the daily Liberation pronounced it “a slap in the face for cinema … both strong and shaky, original and vaguely punk, bizarre and anarchist,” while a critic in a rival newspaper called it “extremely stupid.”

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