‘Yves Saint Laurent’ Tops French Box Office

Berlin-bound biopic punches a first-day $672,000 in Francefor SND

‘Yves Saint Laurent’ Tops French Box Office

PARIS – Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” a The Weinstein Co. pickup for the U.S., has made a happy start to the New Year, bowing Wednesday No. 1 in France with a total 78,131 ticket trawl, including previews.

Released by SND, the distribution and sales arm of TV group M6 that also handles world sales, “Yves Saint Laurent,” which screens at the UniFrance Rendez-vous, punched a first day gross of about €494,000 ($672,000).

The French bow reps “Yves Saint Laurent’s” world premiere and first commercial release. It will also open the Berlin Festival’s Panorama section next month.

Six French movies beat its first-day figure in France last year. What is encouraging, however, as the French film industry stands accused by some of its own members of making films that cost too much, and multiple high profile titles underperformed last year, is that “Yves Saint Laurent” has delivered on the out-of-the-gate having been made on a controlled budgeted, with actors taking back-ends, which did not preclude high-production values. It has also delivered on another front, practically selling out worldwide, save for Spain, Greece and some smaller Asian territories.

Playing at the UniFrance Paris Rendez-vous, which starts Friday, “Yves Saint Laurent” toplines Pierre Niney (“It Boy”) as the iconic fashion designer and actor-director Guillaume Gallienne (“Me Myself and Mum”) as his lover and business partner Pierre Berge.  Wassim Beji and Yannick Bollore’s WY Prods and Cinefrance 1888 produced.

“Distributors we feel more and more that audiences are developing a sixth sense about movie. I feel we have a great film with a real cinematographic quality and that the audience sensed that via the social networks and the press,” said Lionel Uzan, SND director of acquisitions and international sales.

SND’s campaign merely “hinted” at the many layers of the film”: Saint-Laurent’s life, his love story with Berge, the fashion world, the strategies of two entrepreneurs.

“People thought the story was rich but not that they already knew everything,” Uzan said.

“Yves Saint Laurent” also bowed in a tyke-toon-dominated week with comparatively little competition for 25-plus male/female demos. “The Wolf of Wall Street” ranked No. 2 in France, but is now in its third week at Gallic cinemas.

“The high number of previews (which means all over the country) during the holiday season is a very powerful way to create word of mouth, especially when you think/ you know that the movie is good and appreciated,” said Eric Marti, general manager, Rentrak France.

“In addition, the film opened in a “good” market: a high market level  – the first week of 2014 has seen over five million admissions – with some big movies doing well (“Hobbit,” “Frozen,” “Wolf of Wall Street”) and some French movies who were doing well but which were released at the end of November or beginning of December. “They had already gathered their audience and it was the right time for another French film.”

A second vision of the master fashion designer, Bertrand Bonello’s EuropaCorp-sold “Saint Laurent,” produced by Mandarin Cinema, will bow later this year.