Competing against heavyweights like “The Help” and “The Adventures of Tintin” at the French box office with a local pic about cops working in a child-protection agency may seem like a bad marketing decision, but that’s just what actress-turned-helmer Maiwenn pulled off with “Polisse.”

Produced by Alain Attal’s Les Productions du Tresor with a $7 million budget, “Polisse” was released on Oct. 19 and stayed on top of the box office for two weeks, grossing a €8.1 million ($11.1 million) through Nov. 2.

Mars Distribution released the pic on 400 prints; it doubled its first-week gross in its second sesh.

“We didn’t expect ‘Polisse’ to become such a mainstream hit in France, but we got a hint it would be very popular after we witnessed the enthusiasm of local audiences who were attending premieres throughout France,” Attal says.

Sold by Wild Bunch internationally, the film has been picked up by Sundance Selects in the U.S., as well as in several other major territories. “Polisse” also presold to Canal Plus and Franco-German net Arte, and was acquired by commercial net M6.