‘Asterix’ debuts with $4.1 million

First day attracts 464,248 admissions

PARIS — A massive publicity campaign, a star-studded cast and a huge number of prints seem to have paid off for “Asterix at the Olympic Games” in Gaul.

Bowing on a record-breaking 1,078 screens nationwide, the first-day admissions for the Pathe picture stood at 464,248 and a gross of more than $4.1 million.

Expectations are sky high for the third installment in the live-action Asterix franchise.

The second pic in the franchise, 2002’s “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” saw first-day admissions of 629,148 from 900 screens. The pic eventually was watched by more than 14.5 million and earned a cume of $74.1 million in France.

“Olympic Games” had a production budget of more than $115 million — France’s largest ever — and a further $32.8 million will be spent on advertising, so the stakes are very high for Pathe, producer Jerome Seydoux and producer-co-director Thomas Langmann.

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Local critics have almost unanimously savaged the picture.

It “bathes in a tepid marmalade … prepare to be disappointed,” Le Parisien declared.

“The vacuity of this enormous cooking pot ends up making you nauseous,” Le Monde wrote.

Langmann has hit back at critics and said he cares little about reviews: “My target is 5 to 10 year olds, not their parents.”