North American moviegoers flock to see 'Penguins'

11th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

'March of the Penguins,' a French film about penguins' struggle for survival in Antarctica, has taken flight across the Atlantic, becoming the second highest-grossing documentary of all time,

LOS ANGELES, Aug 10 (AFP) – 'March of the Penguins,' a French film about penguins' struggle for survival in Antarctica, has taken flight in North America, becoming the second highest-grossing documentary of all time, box office figures show.

In an unprecedented feat for a foreign animal film, French director Luc Jacquet's work has grossed US $26.4m since its North American release on June 24. 'Penguins' earned US $7.1m dollars last weekend, 77 percent more than the previous weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie ticket sales in the United States and Canada.

The movie was first released in just four theatres, two in New York and two in Los Angeles, but is now playing on 1,867 screens across the United States and is in sixth place at the box office.

In its first three days it earned US $34,000 per theatre, five times more than the top selling movie at the time, 'Batman Begins'.

"We'll be over 2,000 screens this weekend," said Laura Kim, vice president of distributor Warner Independent Pictures (WIP).

'Penguins' is soaring even as Hollywood endures its worst box office slump in 20 years.

"Every week, the penguins surprise us," Kim told AFP, attributing its success to its appeal across age groups -- and species. "There are very few films that parents can bring their children to, and both parents and children love it," she said. "It's played for people from five to 80. It's a romantic film but kids love it, too. The things that penguins go through are very relatable to human experience. It's not just a documentary about penguins. It's a story about survival."

"The film has been so successful because it works on so many different levels. It's a beautiful love story for couples, a thrilling family adventure and a testament to the power and beauty of nature for the more mature audiences," said WIP president Mark Gill.

In ticket sales, 'Penguins' has overtaken 'Bowling for Columbine', Michael Moore's meditation on school violence (US $21.5m). But it is still far behind 'Fahrenheit 9/11', Moore's virulently anti-Bush flick that swept the United States during the 2004 presidential election campaign, raking in more than US $120m dollars.

WIP and National Geographic Feature Films purchased rights to 'March of the Penguins' at the Sundance Festival in Utah in January for US $1m, then modified it slightly for American tastes, changing the soundtrack and narration.

In the original version, French actors Charles Berling and Romane Bohringer voiced the penguin couple. In the English-language version, actor Morgan Freeman narrates.

More than 1.8m people have seen the film since its release in France on January 26.

Jacquet and two cinematographers spent 13 months filming Emperor penguins in the Antarctic, often in temperatures well below freezing.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, March of the Emperor, box office, film, cinema, Luc Jacquet


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