After braving a massive backlash over her fiery political speech at the Cannes Film Festival, French director Justine Triet has succeeded in luring wide audiences in local theaters with her Palme d’Or winning film “Anatomy of a Fall.”
A courtroom drama exploring the collapse of a marriage and a mother-son relationship, “Anatomy of a Fall” has scored the best B.O. score at the French box office for a Palme d’Or winner since “Blue is the Warmest Color,” the 2013 erotic drama starring Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.
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The movie, which was bought by Neon at Cannes, is hotly tipped to represent France is the Oscar race. The other French films that will likely be shortlisted by this year’s French committee include “The Taste of Things” (previously titled “The Pot-au-Feu,” a culinary romance starring Juliette Binoche which won best director at Cannes for French-Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng (“The Scent of Green Papaya”); and “Jeanne du Barry,” Maiwenn’s Versailles-set period starring Johnny Depp as Louis XV. “The Taste of Things” and “Jeanne du Barry” are being handled by IFC Films/Sapan Studios and Vertical, respectively.
Released by Le Pacte across 379 screens on Aug. 23, “Anatomy of a Fall” has grossed an estimated €2.1 million from nearly 300,000 tickets, surpassing the performance of previous Cannes winners, notably Ruben Ostlund’s Oscar-nominated satire “Triangle of Sadness” (by 86%) and even Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning “Parasite” (by 4%).
Driven by a stellar performance by German actor Sandra Huller (“The Zone of Interest”), the movie also grossed four times more than Julia Ducournau’s body horror film “Titane,” another Palme d’Or won by a French director.
Festival favorites and critical darlings rarely resonate with mainstream audiences, but “Anatomy of a Fall” is one of the exceptions. “It’s a courtroom drama that speaks to a lot of people, not just Parisians but truly wide audiences across the country, even in small cities,” said Eric Marti at Comscore France.
Although Triet was bashed on French media for weeks after making a political speech that took aim at the government, the box office results suggest that there hasn’t been any negative impact on the performance, explained Marti, who predicts the film could sell up to one million tickets. Le Pacte’s Jean Labadie told Variety that French exhibitors have committed to maintaining the film in cinemas for a minimum of five weeks.
Marti pointed out the release date of the last week of August provided a “good launchpad” for anticipated French movies that are conversation-starters. “This date can be a double-edged sword because if a movie bombs on its first week it has greater chances of being pulled out of the theaters immediately, but if it kicks off well, it can really build week after week when people get back to their lives after the summer break,” Marti said. Previous French movies that have bowed in late summer and thrived include Thomas Cailley’s “Love at First Fight” and “Dominik Moll’s “With a Friend Like Harry…”
The French box office has been high all summer, bolstered by the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combo, along with a pair of Cannes-premiering hits, Pixar’s “Elementary” and Disney’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” which sold nearly three million tickets, followed by “Mission Impossible : Dead Reckoning, Part One” with 2.5 million admissions.
Produced by David Thion and Marie-Ange Luciani, “Anatomy of a Fall” is on track to become Triet’s most popular film. The helmer previously directed the comedy-drama “Victoria” and psychological thriller “Sibyl,” both of which starred Virginie Efira (“Benedetta”).
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