'A Little Something Extra'

Source: Cine Nomine

‘A Little Something Extra’

A debut feature made for just over €6m starring an ensemble cast of mostly non-professional disabled actors has been at the top of the French box office for eight weeks with more than 7.3 million tickets sold, a gross of approximately €55m based on an average ticket price of €7.50.

Pan Distribution’s A Little Something Extra (Un P’tit Truc en Plus) is part fish-out-of-water comedy, part father-son drama, and a rare window into the daily lives of people living with disabilities and their caretakers.

The film is directed by Artus, a popular actor and comedian, who also stars opposite veteran actor-director Clovis Cornillac. The duo play a father and son who, after robbing a bank, attempt to flee from the police by joining a group of disabled people en route to a holiday retreat. 

Other than co-stars Alice Belaidi, Marc Riso and Celine Groussard who play the group’s caretakers, the roles of the young adults with disabilities are all played by non-professional actors with various disabilities. Artus rewrote the script after casting to adapt the fictional characters to their real-life counterparts. 

The film is produced by Cine Nomine’s Pierre Forette and Thierry Wong.

Distribution strategy

The campaign was three-pronged. Pan Distribution screened the film to major French exhibitors, including Pathé, Kinepolis and CGR, in early February. “We showed the film to the exhibitors so they could see its potential from the beginning, then each one did their part,” explains David Baudry, Pan’s director of distribution. 

The distributor provided each cinema with information about national and local associations for people with disabilities and let each one adapt with specific regional plans to further “eventise” the film. Ticket pre-sales began eight weeks ahead of the film’s launch, with previews two weeks ahead of the official release.

Some 25,000 tickets sold for 240 theatres for the preview screenings. 

Pan Distribution then piggybacked on Artus’s live one-man show comedy tour. The filmmaker showed the trailer before each show, around five per week and in cities across France. After the show, during photo ops, the comedian shared a QR code so fans could reserve spots for the upcoming previews.

“We took advantage of his network,” Baudry says of Artus, who boasts 1.2 million followers on Instagram. 

In the weeks leading up to the film’s release, Pan posted exclusive photos, BTS footage, clips and teasers for the film in cross-posts with the filmmaker’s account. “We promoted it like an American blockbuster,” Baudry explains. “Pre-sales worked very well.”

Pan waited before deploying any film posters on streets and around cities until the film’s May 1 release, a bank holiday in France. The date was a gamble. “Typically, this is the time the sun comes out which is always bad for theatrical distribution,” says Baudry. This year, however, “happily, the weather was terrible.”

Pan opted for a small initial release in terms of scale with just under 460 cinemas compared to what would typically be between 650-700 for a local comedy with even the slightest box-office potential. 

“We wanted theatres to be filled,” says Baudry. “It’s important, particularly for comedy, that audiences experience the film collectively and not just in a room of two people.”

A Little Something Extra started strongly with 1.1 million tickets sold in its first week. It dropped a bit in the second week to just under 1 million before a surprise 32% jump in week three to 1.3 million. It continued with more than 1 million tickets sold per week until dropping slightly to 814,901 in week six. 

The trajectory is thanks to word of mouth and repeat visits. “People are returning to see it more than once and bringing friends,” Baudry explains. 

The film should also see a jump in admissions during the promotional Fete du Cinema period which will see all tickets sold for €5 between June 30 and July 3.

Pan plans to keep the film in French cinemas all summer. It even has a subtitled English-language version ready for visiting English-speaking tourists to popular summer destinations including Dordogne and the Côte d’Azur and in Paris cinemas just in time for the Olympic Games taking place in July and August. 

Baudry estimates the film will garner at least 10 million admissions – approximately €74m – during its full run. This is despite the Olympics and what he calls a “very particular summer” for the French distribution industry amid a fiery time in French politics as elections loom.

Such a turbulent sociopolitical context is also a draw for the feelgood comedy, suggests Olivier Albou, co-founder and president of Other Angle, which is handling international sales. “It is a film that celebrates simplicity,” he says. “It’s not aiming for a brilliant mise-en-scene – it just zooms in on simple characters and has a simple message, which is what audiences in and outside of France are looking for today.”

Other Angle has signed theatrical and remake deals in several major territories and the film is already a hit in other French-speaking markets including Belgium (258,000 admissions/€2.3m to date), Switzerland (125,000 admissions/€1.9m) and Canada (€160,000/236,000 CAD).

Back home, A Little Something Extra is en route to sell more tickets than 2014’s La Famille Bélier, which sold 7.7 million tickets (approximately €56.9m) and was remade as the Oscar-winning film Coda. It’s also on track to surpass Christophe Barratier’s 2008 ensemble drama The Chorus (which achieved 8.5 million admissions and approximately €62.9m) to become the highest-grossing debut feature ever in France.