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Asian films mixed results at French box office
By Patrick Frater
Wed, 06 October 2010, 23:03 PM (HKT)
The French cinema-going public has given Korean films mixed news. The Housemaid (하녀) stumbled. But Poetry (시) has soared.
The Housemaid managed 45,580 spectators in the two weeks since its Sept 15 release in France, but has slowed to 54,300 after three weeks, despite a 53 screen release by Pretty Pictures.
Released three weeks earlier, on the 25 Aug, Poetry has now accumulated 147,000 after five weeks. That puts the Diaphana-handled film seventh in the ranking of Korean films in France, though it could overtake Old Boy (올드보이) and 3-Iron (빈집).
"We had good screens, good reviews and spent good money promoting Housemaid, but it seems potential audiences saw it as too cold and not exotic enough," said Pretty Pictures CEO James Velaise. "And we were disappointed not to receive P&A support from KOFIC, when we know that this Cannes competition film received support in other territories." Nevertheless it seems likely to beat Im Sang-soo's (임상수) previous best performance in France which had been 56,000 for Old Garden (오래된 정원).
France, however, reserved a slow-burn surprise for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ). Released by Pyramide on 1 Sept, it has now passed the 101,000 spectator mark. The figure is comfortably the strongest for a film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล). And while it may owe much to its Palme d'Or from the Cannes festival, the film has defied critics who said that it was too dull and obscure even for France's art-house audiences and pointed to its lacklustre first week on release.
For more analysis of Korean films in France, see forthcoming Pusan Special issue, available from Sat 9 Oct at the festival and market.