A string of high profile Irish and French productions, both in recent weeks and upcoming, are showing strength in their respective local markets.
Showing a seasonal release pattern in spring and autumn for both territories, local films seem to be taking full advantage of the downtime between the power of the US blockbusters in the summer and the looming shadows of winter behemoths such as Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.
First out of the traps in Ireland for the autumn season was local producer Samson Films and Sky Pictures' The Most Fertile Man In Ireland, released on August 31 by Clarence Pictures. On a modest 15 print outing the comedy has lived up to its title grossing $190,337 (£130,000) to date and with several sites still booking David Burke of Clarence expects the film to top out at about $220,000 (£150,000). Launched at the Galway Film Fleadh in July the film has benefited from its exposure in the provincial city where it's taken a surprisingly good $24,890 on one print so far.
UIP opened Hells Kitchen's On The Edge last Friday on 30 prints for an opening weekend of $25,266. Having received positive reviews the film is getting a second week at most sites but word of mouth will decide its fate beyond that.
UIP may be expected to give On The Edge a run in the UK as it's a Universal picture, but The Most Fertile Man's UK release is still under negotiation. The performance of Irish titles in the UK has not been generally positive. About Adam, a comedy starring Stuart Townsend and current Hollywood hot property Kate Hudson, which took $792,474 (£541,260) for BVI in Ireland at the beginning of the year, managed just $111,761 (£76,333) for Metrodome in the UK.
Meanwhile Roddy Doyle comedy When Brendan Met Trudy achieved $1.1m (£744,900) in Ireland in the spring for Momentum but saw only $50,296 (£34,352) in the UK for the same company. The next local production to cross the Irish Sea, Peaches, is something of a first - an English story shot in Ireland. The film grossed $173,773 (£118,687) on its Irish release for distributor Abbey Films in April.
Three other Irish films arrive in Irish cinemas over the next few weeks - H3, a hunger strike drama from Metropolitan Films gets a 15 print release from Abbey on Sept 28; the same company gives a 25 print release to Temple Films' and Renaissance Films' Disco Pigs on Oct 12 which crosses to the UK on Nov 16; and BVI releases Dan Aykroyd-Robbie Coltrane comedy On The Nose on 36 prints on Oct 26.
After seeing a succession of local hits in the spring, including The Closet, Brotherhood Of The Wolf and La Verite Si Je Mens 2, France is also enjoying a strong showing for homegrown product at present. The latest top 20 chart for the territory contains 10 French productions or co-productions including a one-two triumph for Vidocq and Une Hirondelle A Fait Le Printemps.
UFD's Vidocq opened last week to take the number one spot in the chart with massive seven-day admissions of 853,930 from 635 screens. This is more than twice the week admissions for second placed Hirondelle, distributed by Mars Films, which managed 358,870 from 476 screens in its third week on release. Also making the top 10 were new release Comment J'ai Tue Mon Pere, distributed by Pathe, with 118,601 admissions from 137 screens; Absolument Fabuleux at eight, taking 118,451 in its fourth week on release - bringing the comedy's total admissions to 1.2m; French-Austrian co-production The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) continued well for MK2 recording 100,348 in its third week.
Oscar-tipped phenomenon Amelie holds in the French top ten after 22 weeks on release. The film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet has sold a massive 7.7m admissions. Amelie is released in the UK on Oct 5 by Momentum Pictures and in Los Angeles and New York from Miramax on Nov 2 before expanding on Nov 16.