“Napoleon”, directed by Ridley Scott, tops the French box office despite harsh criticism


Despite being harshly panned by French critics and cynical retaliation by director Ridley Scott, “Napoleon” had a strong opening in France on Wednesday, earning an estimated 868,000 euros ($946,000) from about 120,000 admissions. The figure, revealed by Comscore France, includes about 8,000 tickets sold at premieres across France, particularly in Paris where Sony Pictures held a lavish world premiere of the historical epic on November 14, just days after the SAG finale. AFTRA hits.

“Napoleon,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the notorious French emperor and Vanessa Kirby as his wife Josephine de Beauharnais, has been harshly panned by French critics for its alleged historical inaccuracy and anti-French stance. Additionally, Phoenix’s performance drew some ridicule from reputable media outlets, such as France Culture radio station which compared the actor’s Napoleon appearance to a “dusty wax figure”.

The harshest review came from the national newspaper Le Figaro, which wrote that the film could be renamed “Barbie and Ken Under the Empire.” Meanwhile, on television, the polarizing film was hotly debated on talk shows, as well as on news channels such as BFMTV where politicians gave their opinions on the film. But Scott brushed aside the harsh criticism when he told the BBC that “the French don’t even like themselves” as he presented the negative assessments coming from the country. His comments do not appear to have discouraged French audiences from buying tickets.

“Napoleon” was the biggest box office hit this week, overwhelmingly dominating the domestic box office, beating “Rien a Perdre,” a family drama starring Virginie Efira, as well as the animated film “Mars Express.”

The Apple production’s debut is on par with some other recent big-budget American fare, especially Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” which sold 150,359,889 admissions on its July 19 opening day in France.

But it is Scott’s biggest French launch in years. His last two films, “The House of Gucci” and “The Last Duel,” sold only 33,895 and 22,000 tickets, respectively, on their first days in French theaters.

Comscore France’s Eric Marty says “Napoleon” may sell about 1 million tickets in its first week and could double or triple that number over the Christmas holiday. “Napoleon” still has a great chance of matching the success of Scott’s “The Gladiator” in France, which debuted in 2000 and sold 195,000 tickets. This film, which also starred Phoenix alongside Russell Crowe, received 4.7 million screenings in French theatres.

This year, the French box office was dominated by “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (7.36 million tickets), followed by “Barbie” (5.84 million tickets), the French adventure comedy based on the “Asterix and Obelix: The Middle” franchise. “Kingdom” (4.62 million tickets), “Oppenheimer” (4.45 million tickets) and another French comedy “Alibi.com 2” (4.3 million).

“The French cinema market has returned to pre-pandemic levels, both in terms of box office revenues and the diverse range of films,” says Marty.

The Comscore France CEO also noted that a string of arthouse films exceeded expectations, from Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall” (1.3 million entries) to “The Boy and the Heron” (1.25 million entries). . . Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film beat out Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Moonflower” by a few thousand tickets.

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