EURO BEAT: Reactions to DARK KNIGHT RISES Tragedy From Paris

Brian Clark, European Editor
As previously reported, the Paris avant-premiere and press junket for the The Dark Knight Rises with the cast and crew of the film was wisely canceled in the wake of the tragic events in Colorado. However, an early screening of the film still took place at the legendary Rex Theater this weekend and, not too surprisingly, it went off completely without incident. But that hasn't stopped the populist, centralist newspaper Le Parisien from dramatizing it and making the attendees look goofy and completely insensitive.

Among the few quotes they ran from attendees, the worst of the lot was probably from a 24-year-old who said that the shootings will make the film more popular because "death sells." Another mentioned her relatives joking about whether she was going to wear a bullet proof vest to the screening. However, one person did steer clear of cynical jokes, saying, "this is just cinema, and that's all it should be."

Newspapers also pounced on terrible jokes by French celebrities, including Mathieu Kassovitz who tweeted "Apparently #DarkKnightRises is a real killer." (Believe me, this is not any more clever or in better taste in French). He tweeted an apology soon after.

In any case, exhibitors said that about 400 people canceled and asked to be reimbursed for tickets to the screening, but this could have just as easily been due to the fact that none of the actors were showing up and tickets to these things usually cost a lot more because of their attendance. Le Parisien has put up a poll asking: "After the murders in Colorado, are you going to see the new Batman?". So far, out of about 4,400 votes, 38% have said that they will not. Take it about as seriously as you would any other internet poll.  

Le Monde on the other hand has stuck mostly to reprinting US analysis of the incident without really getting on a pedestal about the fact that it's much harder to get assault rifles and the like in Europe. Though I'm sure a number of Europeans still rolled their eyes at the headline: "In the United States, Another Killing and the Same Debate." Central-left paper The Liberation took a more direct tact with a four paragraph blog editorial that opens with "How many deaths will it take before America begins a serious debate on weapons? With each killing, the scenario is the same: a few cries of indignation, and then everything settles back to the way it was." You can easily guess where it goes from there.

Meanwhile, President Françoise Holland issued a brief statement expressing, "solidarity with the authorities and the American people," as well as his "deepest condolences to the families of victims and their families." 

French Films No Longer Filmed in France

FICAM, the French federation of Technical Industries in film just released a report showing that 2/3 of all large French film shoots took place outside of France, usually in other parts of Europe. According to president of FICAM Thierry de Segonzac, the trend is troubling because it results in huge job losses in France. A similar pattern occurred between 2000 and 2004, but it was completely reversed with the introduction of tax credits for film production.

But sadly, other European countries like Belgium have continued to develop incentives which now outweigh those available in France. FICAM has proposed a new tax amendment, but, according to Segonzac, that's going to be a tricky thing to pass with the French government trying to eliminate tax loopholes.

That said, Segonzac brings up another problem that kills France's competitive edge which is far more ingrained in their culture -- the short workdays. France is famous for loving vacation and hating overtime, (Barely anyone will be working for the entire month of August) and the labor laws for the film industry reflect this sensibility. While Belgium allows ten hour workdays and US allows twelve, France still enforces eight hour workdays for film crews. Given France's track record,  I'm guessing this won't change without a number of strikes in opposition, even if it means, as Segonzac suggests, an eventual loss of technical ability and know-how in France as productions continue to relocate to other countries.

European Box Office

The summer domination of American blockbusters continued this week, only with a few notable local twists. For the most part, the last frame belonged to Ice Age: Continental Drift took the top spot in virtually every territory including France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Portugal. Snow White and the Huntsman finally opened in Italy and easily took first place, while Norway and Greece gave that position to The Amazing Spiderman, which more or less finished its European roll out last week.

However, a few notable local releases opened with considerably strong debuts as well. The Swedish comedy Cockpit, in which a fired pilot dresses as a woman in order to get another pilot job, opened at number three in it's native country, taking in the equivalent of half a million dollars. In France, while Ice Age and Spiderman dominated, the bro-comedy Les Kaïra actually had the highest per screen average ($10,587), which was good enough also for the number three spot. In Spain, Pablo Trapero's follow up to Carancho, White Elephant, opened at $0.3 million, which isn't so terrible when you consider that it's per screen average was on par with Ice Age. However, the Spanish fantasy flick Game of Werewolves didn't fare so well, opening with a dismal $442 per screen average, which wasn't even good enough to place it in the top ten.

But the funniest face-off took place in Iceland, where Ted completely obliterated Ice Age while playing on less than half the screens. To be fair though, taking the number one spot in Iceland in this case means a $42,800 gross and usually, no movie plays on more than 13 or so theaters at once in the country.
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  • mightyjoeyoung

    "Newspapers also pounced on terrible jokes by French celebrities, including Mathieu Kassovitz who tweeted "Apparently #DarkKnightRises is a real killer."

    Not surprised.....didn´t think Kassovitz would show better taste.

    "The Swedish comedy Cockpit, in which a fired pilot dresses as a woman in order to get another pilot job, opened at number three in it's native country, taking in the equivalent of half a million dollars."

    Yeah.....one of those feel good comedies that gets made all the time in Sweden. I wont be seeing any time soon......please someone buy Killer Joe!

    "where Ted completely obliterated Ice Age while playing on less than half the screens."

    That might happen in Sweden....Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) became so popular that they had rerelease more copies to swedish cinemas. Maybe Ted (2012) will do the same thing.

    Thanks for the wrap up, Mr Clark.

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