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Twelve European Films Crack The Top 150 List in USA

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While it seems definite that a Spanish actor will walk away with an Oscar (Javier Bardem for his supporting performance in the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men) and that a French actress has a strong shot at pulling off a surprise win for Best Actress (Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose [+lire aussi :
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), the 2007 U.S. theatrical box office was not especially kind to European cinema.

With the Hollywood studios releasing dozens of films every week and some high performing American indie pictures, it has been hard for European films to get into the mix. Only four films with European pedigree even made it into the Top 100. The highest grosser (at number five) was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [+lire aussi :
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. While produced by London’s Heyday Films and featuring a who’s who of English acting talents, the film is less “English” or “European” than “trans-global”. However, the $292 million gross has made the Harry Potter series the most profitable European-based film franchise of its kind.

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As one would imagine in a country where English is the main language (although American English is a far cry from the Queen’s English), films from the UK in the English language rounded out the top grossers. Atonement [+lire aussi :
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, the much-nominated historical epic, is still in general release but it ended 2007 at number 59, with a domestic box office total of over $45 million (not huge, but very respectable).

Coming in at numbers 78 and 86 respectively, were Mr. Bean's Holiday [+lire aussi :
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, another entry in the Rowan Atkinson franchise, which was produced by Working Title Films (UK), Studio Canal (France) and Universal Pictures. The film grossed almost $35 million in the United States, one of the weaker markets for the outlandish goings-on of Mr. Bean. The sci-fi sequel 28 Weeks Later [+lire aussi :
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, produced by DNA Films and the UK Film Council, clocked at number 86, with just under $30 Million.

UK films or co-productions dominated the rest of the European film list, including Becoming Jane [+lire aussi :
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(produced by BBC Films and Blueprint Pictures) at number 112 with just under $20 Million; Eastern Promises [+lire aussi :
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, the David Cronenberg-directed thriller which was a Canadian/UK co-production between Toronto-based Serendipity Point Pictures and BBC Films and Kudo Films of the UK, is still in release but finished the year at number 117, with just over $17 Million; Elizabeth: The Golden Age [+lire aussi :
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(a co-production with the UK’s Working Title Films, France’s Studio Canal and Germany’s Motion Picture ZETA Produktionsgesellschaft) was rather flat at number 120, with a total US gross of just under $17 Million.

Rounding out the final films were: The Kite Runner, the film adaptation of the international best seller, co-produced by the UK’s Neal Street Productions, in association with Participant Productions and Dreamworks of the US….coming in at number 126, grossing less than $15 Million (a major disappointment); the Lajos Koltai-directed family drama Evening, a co-production between New York’s Hart Sharp Entertainment and Germany’s Erste Filmproduktiongesellschaft, which was clocked in at number 136, with a combined theatrical box office take of less than $13 Million.

Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s The Lives of Others [+lire aussi :
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interview : Florian Henckel von Donner…
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, was the highest grossing non-English language film, coming in at number 139, with a combined take of under $12 Million. A film that has won awards this year and is nominated for several Oscar, French director Olivier Dahan’s biopic La Vie en Rose [+lire aussi :
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, produced by Legende Productions in association with TF1 Productions, is still in release but grossed just over $10 Million by the end of last year. The final film, at number 149, was the musical sleeper Once [+lire aussi :
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, by Irish director John Carney. The film, produced by Dublin’s Samson Films in association with Irish television network RTE, pulled in less than $10 Million in the US theatrical box office.

Of course, all of the above films will continue to generate income in the ancillary markets of DVD, VOD, television sales and non-theatrical bookings. However, all in all, the fact that so few non-English language films broke through and that even the UK titles were often deemed disappointments, has underscored the difficult road that European films have in making their mark in North America.

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

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