Quietly forceful Dardenne brothers capture box office
by Aurore Engelen
07/06/2011 - Released on May 18, in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival, the Dardenne brothers’ eighth feature The Kid With a Bike [trailer, film focus] has got off to a great start with over 46,000 viewers in 18 days, almost 50% more admissions than their previous film, The Silence of Lorna [trailer, film focus].
Despite the erratic but mainly summery weather, the film has enjoyed excellent word-of-mouth, guaranteeing it impressive staying power. Not only has the number of theatres not dropped, but neither has the number of screenings, even in commercial theatres.
Spared competition from the superhero-themedX-Men and the bad boys of The Hangover, The Kid With a Bike is neck and neck with other auteur films currently on screens, including Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life. Moreover, the film is number one at the box office in the arthouse theatres where it is showing, both in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. In Flemish arthouse theatres, the film has been garnering three to four times more admissions than its main rivals.
The Dardenne brothers’ films also have that rare capacity in Belgian cinema to completely unite Dutch-speaking and Francophone audiences. Right now, the film is still showing in 14 theatres in Wallonia, nine in Flanders, five in Brussels and one in Luxembourg.
Cinéart, the Dardenne brothers’ loyal distributor, quite reasonably hopes to exceed 100,000 admissions, which would guarantee The Kid With a Bike the best results for a Dardenne film after their two Palme d’Or winners (200,000 admissions for Rosetta in 1999 and 180,000 for The Child [trailer, film focus] in 2005 at the end of their run). The film will certainly far outstrip the 75,000 admissions for The Silence of Lorna.
In a difficult context where Belgian Francophone films too often struggle to find an audience, the stroke of sunshine brought by the Dardenne brothers is a welcome boost.
(Translated from French)