Surprise French hit takes on 'Titanic' at box office
Comedy debunking stereotypes about France's bleak north is expected Sunday to become the most successful French film ever.
PARIS, April 7, 2008 - A comedy debunking stereotypes about France's bleak north is expected Sunday to become the most successful French film ever, and is snapping at the heels of US blockbuster "Titanic" as all-time French box office champion.
"Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" ("Welcome to the Land of the Ch'tis") has
pulled in more than 17 million viewers since it was released on February 27.
By Sunday night, Pathe film distributors said the movie was set to inch
past the current record holder, the classic 1966 comedy "La Grande Vadrouille"
starring Louis de Funes, which was seen by 17.3 million people.
"We should beat it, by around 5,000 or 10,000 tickets," said Pathe's head
of distribition Henri Demoulin. The film was just 85,000 entries short of the
record at close of business on Saturday night, he added.
At this rate, "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" could go on to challenge
"Titanic", the most successful film ever released in France with 20.7 million
Directed by and starring comic Danny Boon, the film takes aim at the
prejudices about the Nord Pas de Calais region bordering Belgium to reveal the
warmth of its people.
It tells the story of a southerner forced by his company to go north and
who finds, once he has mastered the impenetrable accent, people who open their
hearts to strangers.
The nickname "Ch'ti" emerged during World War I when soldiers from the
region were teased by comrades about their prononciation of ch'est ti, ch'est
mi instead of c'est toi, c'est moi (it's you, it's me).
Boon put the film's success down to a French "need for something fraternal,
that brings people together."
"French comedies are often pretty cynical, we laugh quite cruelly at
things, and the film is the opposite of that," he told AFP.
Shot on an 11-million-euro (17-million-dollar) budget, the film has so far
grossed 99 million euros.
"Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" is to be offered to international buyers at
next month's Cannes film festival under the English-language title "Welcome to
It will also be shown at the opening of the "City of lights, City of
angels" festival in Los Angeles on April 14-20, with Hollywood already
rumoured to be interested in a remake.