‘Taxi 2’ hacks up Gallic B.O. record

LeeLoo actioner suprises with $18 mil in 1st week

PARIS — “Taxi 2” a homegrown action sequel, has smashed French box office records, raking in $18 million in its first week. That’s more than “Erin Brockovich,” No. 1 at the U.S. box office, pulled in over the past weekend.

The Luc Besson-produced pic, which cost $10 million to make, was seen by nearly 3.5 million filmgoers, three times as many as the rest of the top 10 French films put together.

Released amid much fanfare on 830 screens across France — more than last year’s big hit “Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar” — “Taxi 2,” directed by Gerard Krawczyk and produced by Besson’s LeeLoo Prods., seemed destined for success.

While the location was changed from Marseilles to Paris, the film stuck with the same actors and the same winning formula of car chases and capers that had worked so well for the first “Taxi,” which grossed $33 million in France last year.

Hard to miss

In Paris, it was hard to miss the eye-catching promotional posters showing cars flying through the air at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

But the extent of the film’s popularity has taken everyone by surprise, including the film’s distributor ARP Selection, whose phones haven’t stopped ringing this week.

The film’s success has done a considerable amount to cheer up the French film industry, coming hot on the heels of director Agnes Jaoui’s hit pic “Le Gout des Autres.”

After a poor start to the year for French films, Jaoui’s directorial debut shot straight to the top of the French box office charts, where it stayed for four weeks until being pushed back to second place by “Taxi 2.”

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