The Artist faces box-office challenge
by Fabien Lemercier
12/10/2011 - Championed by enthusiastic critics, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist [trailer, film focus], which earned the Best Actor Award for Jean Dujardin at Cannes last May, is being launched today in over 360 cinemas by Warner amid a wave of 13 new releases that risks leaving many productions by the box-office wayside. Indeed, this is the start of the busiest time of year in terms of releases, with an autumnal bottleneck reopening the recurring (and never-resolved) debate about a better staggering of films throughout the year.
This Wednesday also marks a great challenge for The Artist, as it tries to turn the major artistic feat of a silent, contemporary black-and-white film into a box-office success, a very bold gamble in an environment where a lack of colour is often seen as a return to the Middle Ages by young generations of viewers.
Not making matters easier, the competition is particularly fierce among mainstream French films this Wednesday, with Bibo Bergeron’s animated film A Monster In Paris [trailer] (co-produced by Belgium’s Walking the Dog – EuropaCorp Distribution in 677 cinemas); and Djamel Bensalah’s comedy Beur sur la Ville [trailer] (distributed by Paramount Pictures France in 367 cinemas). Alongside these are Paul W.S. Anderson’s German/UK/French/US co-production The Three Musketeers 3D, which is being launched by UGC Distribution in 507 cinemas.
In the shadow of this foursome, three high-quality European films will try to make their mark: Jean-Jacques Jauffret’s subtle After the South [trailer], unveiled in the latest Cannes Directors’ Fortnight (see review - Jour2Fête on a 20-print run); South African director Oliver Hermanus’s outstanding majority French co-production Beauty [trailer], acclaimed on the Croisette in the Un Certain Regard section (see review - Equation on 13 prints); and Belgian helmer Hans Van Nuffel’s harrowing Oxygen [trailer] (see review and video interview - Premium Films on 40 prints).
Also hitting screens are two other French films: François Lunel’s Mona Lisa Has Vanished [trailer] (distributed by Promenade Films) and Ali Borgini’s Le Dernier Week-end [trailer] (“The Last Weekend”, distributed by Productions 9); and two documentaries: Gereon Wetzel’s German title El Bulli [trailer] (Zootrope Films) and Kaleo La Belle’s Swiss flick Beyond This Place (distributed by Nour Films).
(Translated from French)