French Box Office Sees Uptick Despite Nice Terror Attack

Bastille Day - H 2016
Courtesy of Studio Canal

Idris Elba's 'Bastille Day' was on track to open out of the top five before being pulled by StudioCanal.

The French box office performed strongly over the holiday weekend, despite the terror attacks in Nice that rocked the country Thursday night.

“Nice saw a big drop," said Eric Marti, general manager of box-office tracker Comscore. He estimated that Nice numbers were down over 50 percent as some cinemas shuttered Friday. “But overall the figures were not that bad nationwide and stayed consistent — even a little better — for what we can expect for the holiday weekend.”

Overall, ticket sales were up a slight 0.7 percent nationwide over the same weekend last year. Attendance was down 13 percent in the Paris region, but that can be attributed more to the weather as the city saw its first sunny weekend after a cold and cloudy June.

The Bastille Day weekend — comparable to the Fourth of July in the U.S. — is always a strong week for summer box office, Marti noted. Films traditionally open on Wednesdays in France, so a Thursday holiday is especially helpful for a long-weekend box-office boost.

On Saturday, StudioCanal pulled its beleaguered film Bastille Day, which stars James Bond-hopeful Idris Elba as a CIA agent who attempts to stop a terror attack in Paris, after initially deciding to stick by the movie.

Despite a heavy ad campaign, Bastille Day had “opened quietly,” noted Marti, as the third-ranked debut behind Ice Age: Collision Course and French comedy Debarquement Immediat! (Last Call for Nowhere), director Philippe de Chauveron’s follow-up to his blockbuster Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu? (Serial (Bad) Weddings), which dominated the French box office for weeks in 2014.

Bastille Day brought in 57,822 moviegoers before pulling its later screenings on Saturday. Had those numbers held steady, it would have put the film at No. 7 or No. 8 on the top 10 list for the week, Marti estimated, a fairly weak showing for a star-driven action film.

“It did play on Friday and [some of] Saturday, and the box office was not that great,” he noted.

The animated comedies Ice Age: Collision Course and Finding Dory did solid business for a family-friendly holiday weekend, and Tarzan continued to perform strongly with 295,684 tickets sold, falling only 17 percent from its opening week.

Bastille Day was shot in Paris in fall 2014 on a budget just shy of $10 million. It has taken in $7.5 million since opening in May in 23 territories across Europe and Asia.

Those releases were pushed back — specifically in the U.K. and Germany — following the terror attacks that took place in Paris last November.

The ill-fated film was picked up by Focus Features for the U.S. at Cannes in 2014. It is now set for a day-and-date VOD release, though no date has been scheduled.