TF1 has acquired free-TV rights to Disney's Pearl Harbor, which the French broadcaster will show from autumn 2004.
The latest Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer title, released in France on June 6 by Gaumont Buena Vista International, attracted a strong 141,268 admissions on its first day. Although this does not come close to other 2001 chart toppers, such as French films La Verite 2 (503,000 admissions on its opening day) and Le Pacte Des Loups (301,000 admissions), it is the seventh best opening so far this year.
The three hour-long film received, at best, a lukewarm reception from the French press (trendsetting daily Liberation dubbed it 'Beurk Harbor' on its front page - 'beurk' roughly translating as 'yuck'). It nevertheless carved out a 37% market share in Paris and its suburbs, where it sold 29,832 tickets from 59 screens.
TF1 has also signed an output deal with independent French production company Les Films de la Suane, whose slate include an ambitious US-set English-language project, La Justice Jusqu'a L'Absurde.
Les Films de la Suane's Philippe Rousselet beat off competition from such US heavyweights as Columbia TriStar and Bill Mechanic's Pandemonium for the rights to adapt Thomas Lemaire's book, which tells the true story of Michael Pardue, a 17-year-old boy sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1970s in Alabama for three murders he did not commit.
'Our offer was not the highest by far,' explained Rousselet. 'But I had a very close contact with the Pardues, and they felt the film would be truer to reality if it was produced by a non-US company.' The film, for which Rousselet will be seeking a US pre-sale, will shoot in 2002-2003.
Along with La Justice, Rousselet's slate include Bernie Bonvoisin's swashbuckling comedic epic Blanche, which is to feature an impressive ensemble cast including Gerard Depardieu and Jean Rochefort. The $11.6m (FFR90m) film is to start shooting in early September this year.
Three projects are slated for 2002, including the next film by Bruno Chiche after his 2000 sleeper hit Barnie Et Ses Petites Contrarietes (which was also produced by La Suane), a still untitled comedy, as well as another comedy, Tristan, to be directed by Philippe Harel.
Rousselet - who is co-producing with Lise Fayolle (Production Internationale Le Film) Balzac Et La Petite Tailleuse Chinoise, a film adapted by Dai Sijie from his own novel and sold worldwide by TF1 International), will partner with Fayolle again on Sijie's next project.