Warner Bros' French division is to produce Ma Femme S'appelle Maurice, the next film by French comedy specialist Jean-Marie Poire (The Visitors). The $13m (Ffr100m) title, which is also to be backed by Germany's Babelsberg Studios, Canal Plus and French public broadcaster France Television, starts shooting on July 23 in Paris
Gaumont, which has made most of Poire's films since the late seventies, will not be involved. Their latest effort, Just Visiting, the mega-budget English-language version of Poire hit The Visitors, underperformed, contributing (along with Roland Joffe's Vatel) to Gaumont's poor 2000 results - a $56.8m (Ffr436m) loss.
Warner Bros. has been involved in local films through its French production offshoot PECF (Production et Edition Cinematographique Francaise) since Francis Boespflug -- a former Gaumont executive -- took over Warner France in 1997 and revived the American major's local production and pick-up activities
This year, the US studio offshoot scored its biggest hit ever in France with local comedy, La Verite 2 (You Shouldn't Worry ). The film, which is part of a three-title deal between PECF and French production company Vertigo, attracted a massive 7.8 million admissions.
Boepsflug, who is seeking to be involved in three to four local titles per year, has already boarded another potential French hit, Le Boulet (Dead Weight) -- a $20.6m (Ffr158m) action comedy directed by Alain Berberian and featuring Gerard Lanvin, Benoit Poelvoorde and Djimon Hounson (Gladiator) -- as a 50/50 partnership with La Petite Reine, the production company of Claude Berri's son Thomas Langmann.