'Bienvenue' beats 'Asterix' opening day

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PARIS -- French moviegoers gave new release "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" (Welcome to the Land of Shtis) a warm welcome Wednesday, buying 558,359 tickets for the film on its first day of release, the best performance for a film on opening day in Gaul this year.

The film, released on 788 screens nationwide, beat recently released blockbuster "Asterix at the Olympic Games," which sold 464,248 on its opening day.

"Bienvenue" sold 113,892 tickets in the Paris region on its first day in theaters, making it the fourth-best opening day in history for the region.

Released on 95 screens in Paris and its suburbs by Pathe Distribution, "Bienvenue" follows s record 175,334 ticket sales on opening day of "Spider-Man 3" on 64 screens.

The second feature directed by actor Dany Boon, 2007 best supporting actor Cesar winner Kad Merad and actress Zoe Felix co-star in the film about a postal worker transferred from the South of France to a small Northern town where he discovers the unusual customs of its population.

Also released Wednesday in the territory, Pierre Morel's "Taken" took second place with 51,000 ticket sales followed by "There will be Blood" with 28,554.
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