UK distributor Momentum Pictures is celebrating a triumphant weekend for its French pick-up Amelie as it stormed into the UK charts, taking fifth position, with a massive $832,000 (£560,768) from its 82 print release, including previews of $64,731 (£43,629) from 67 sites.
The film easily outperformed the week's new Hollywood offerings, Driven, which took $214,527 from 188 sites, and Angelina Jolie picture Original Sin, $143,356 from 155.
Amelie, which has sold a phenomenal 7.7m tickets in France to date and remains in the top fifteen for that country after 23 weeks on release, received the second widest release ever for a foreign-language film in the UK, after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which opened on 88 screens on January 5 this year. "The audience for Amelie is incredibly wide," says David Kosse, managing director of Momentum Pictures. "We decided not to treat it like a foreign-language film, trailering it on [mainstream titles] such as Planet Of The Apes and Moulin Rouge."
The support Momentum gave the film, which is directed by Delicatessen's Jean-Pierre Jeunet and stars Audrey Tautou, included screening it to 20,000 people in the last three months, one of the largest screening programmes ever undertaken in the UK, to help spread early word-of-mouth and significantly increase the size of the audience for the opening weekend.. This clearly paid off as the romantic comedy received a host of positive reviews including the highest possible ratings (five stars) from consumer film magazines Empire and Total Film.
Amelie's three-day gross was also the second highest for a foreign-language title in the UK, again second only to Crouching Tiger's $1,018,377 (£686,386) and, after only three-days on release, it has already claimed fifth position in the chart of the top 20 foreign-language films of the year behind Crouching Tiger, Amores Perros, Together and Lagaan.
This puts Amelie well within sight of beating the total grosses of Life Is Beautiful ($4.5m) and Cyrano De Bergerac ($3.6m) which are currently the second and third highest grossing foreign-language films in the UK of all-time.
In comparison, Life Is Beautiful, released in February 1999 by BVI, grossed an opening weekend of $130,294 from 10 sites, peaking in its third week on 55 screens and a gross of $234,840. Cyrano opened in January 1991 for Artificial Eye, on eight screens for a three-day take of $110,611. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a Bollywood film distributed by Yash Raj Films in 1998 which went on to become the fourth biggest foreign-language film ever in the territory, opened on 20 screens for a three-day figure of $268,531.
Friday will see Momentum increase the film's number of prints by a further 16 to 98 and the film could well go wider still. Hotly tipped to win the best foreign-language film gong at next year's Academy Awards, Amelie will be released in North America by Miramax, starting with New York and Los Angeles on November 2 before expanding on November 16.