Nobody’s a winner in the War of the Buttons
by Fabien Lemercier
06/10/2011 - Here we have the first results of the box-office contest which, for the past two weeks, has pitted against each other Yann Samuell’s War of the Buttons [trailer] and Christophe Barratier’s War of the Buttons [trailer] (see news and news), two new film adaptations of Louis Pergaud’s novel. Released first by UGC Distribution, Samuell’s War of the Buttons has amassed 1.095m admissions in three weeks, while Barratier’s version has attracted 820,000 viewers in two weeks (Mars Distribution).
With critics having shown no clear preference for either of the two titles and with no huge differences generated by the marketing campaigns, it was up to viewers to decide the outcome of this battle which is unseen before in the history of French film production. But apart from a slight head start for the first film to hit screens (635,000 admissions in its first week on 596 prints for Samuell’s film compared to 521,000 on 539 prints for Barratier’s version), the two features are enjoying a more or less identical run (sharp drop in the second week with, respectively, -56% and -43%), which should bring them at best to a final total of between 1.3m and 1.5m admissions each.
These very respectable scores will nonetheless leave the two producers with the bitter taste of having lost, because of the other, a large pool of admissions which would have turned two fine performances into one huge success. And this is all the more the case as each one was aiming for 2m admissions in France to make a return on their projects. Moreover, in the third week, this fratricidal battle was still occupying 1,188 of France’s 5,470 movie screens, significantly reducing screen space for exhibiting other films.
A few films have still managed to do well in the shadow of this warring pair, in particular, in their first week on release, Rémi Bezançon’s A Happy Event [trailer] (206,000 admissions – Gaumont on 373 prints) and Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Free Men [trailer] (80,000 viewers – Pyramide on 199 prints). Meanwhile, Nanni Moretti’s We Have A Pope [trailer, film focus] (524,000 admissions in four weeks – Le Pacte on 524 prints) and Valérie Donzelli’s Declaration of War [trailer] (710,000 viewers in five weeks – Wild Bunch Distribution on 347 prints) continue their impressive, long-lasting theatrical runs.
(Translated from French)