Gaumont’s French Christmas Comedy ‘Santa & Cie’ Set for Big Rollout in China

After smashing the French B.O. with an estimated €3.5 million in five days, Alain Chabat’s fantasy-filled Christmas comedy “Santa & Cie” will be getting a wide release in China on Dec. 15.

Hishow Entertainment is partnering up with China Film Group to give “Santa & Cie” a massive roll-out across 8,000 screens.

Co-produced and repped worldwide by Gaumont, “Santa & Cie” will mark the second French-language film to be released in China this year, following Dany Boon’s “Raid Dingue,” and the second French-language pic to be distributed nearly simultaneously with the release in France. Another Gaumont movie, the animated feature “Ballerina,” was released in China by Hishow and sold more than 1.3 million tickets.

Hishow Entertainment is aiming to bank on the growing popularity of Christmas, which Gaumont says has become the second-most celebrated holiday in China after the Chinese New Year. It turns out that two-thirds of the Christmas decorations consumed worldwide are made in Yiwu, a Chinese city now nicknamed the “Christmas Village.”

Chabat (“Houba! On the Trail of the Marsupilami,” “Asterix et Obelix: Mission Cleopatra”), who also stars in “Santa & Cie” opposite Audrey Tautou, Golshifteh Farahani and Pio Marmai, traveled to Beijing over the weekend to present previews of the film and was warmly welcomed (pictured).

The movie follows the journey of the grumpy yet tenderhearted Santa Claus (played by Chabat) who is forced to travel to Earth to find a cure for his sick elves a few days before Christmas and comes across a young Parisian family who help him complete his mission.

One of the most ambitious French films produced in the last couple years, “Santa & Cie” was made by the outfit Legende with a $28 million budget; and it benefited from a key crew that included Bryan Jones, whose credits include “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

“Santa & Cie” has already been a big success in France where it was released by Gaumont last Wednesday and ranked second to Pixar’s animated blockbuster “Coco.” It will next be released by Belga in Belgium, Ascot Elite in Switzerland, Mile End in Canada, Kino Swiat in Poland and Megogo in Russia.

Hishow Entertainment’s previous international film releases include “The Imitation Game,” “Triple 9” and “Ballerina.”

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