Cinema: Does Titanium have the lowest results of a film crowned Palme d’Or?

BOUDÉ – Released in theaters in mid-July, the Palme d’Or of the last Cannes festival has so far attracted only 250,000 spectators. It’s not much, but other award-winning feature films have seen similar (if not worse) setbacks.

Update 8/23/2021: The Best Intentions movie was directed by Bille August, not Ingmar Bergman, as we originally stated. The latter was however the screenwriter.

Chaired this year by Spike Lee, the jury of the Cannes festival honored the film a few weeks ago Titanium. Winner of the Palme d’Or, the feature film by French director Julia Ducournau had just been released in theaters on July 14. Enough to ensure additional media coverage and attract the attention of the public. If the Cannes craze for this thriller resulted in a prestigious award, however, the cinemas did not observe a tidal wave during the first weeks of operation.

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Entered its sixth week of operation, Titanium just exceeds the 250,000 admissions mark, some voices opposing this figure to the film’s budget (7.4 million euros) to evoke a “industrial accident”. If all feature films do not reach a million admissions, should this be seen as a major underperformance for a Palme d’Or? To find out, LCI has taken an interest in films awarded at Cannes in recent decades.

A goal of 300,000 admissions?

Films shown in theaters generally post their best scores during the first week of operation. Figures which then tend to decrease little by little, as the number of copies decreases. Titanium is no exception, since after registering 88,523 between July 14 and 21, he saw his number of spectators decrease. 57,184 the second week, then 45,394, 34,241, 25,342, and finally 20,560 between August 11 and August 18. This gives us 245,902 cumulative admissions, enough to hope to cross the 300,000 mark at the end of the summer or during the month of September.

No need for a crystal ball to announce that the film will not benefit from the success of the previous Palme d’Or, awarded in 2019 to Parasite. With 1.8 million viewers, the feature film by South Korean Bong-Joon-ho had more than found its audience. In the history of the Palmes d’Or, Titanium is not, however, among the least watched films: The best intentions had indeed accumulated only 91,503 admissions in 1992. Very little for this film signed Bille August and which had earned the actress Pernilla August a prize for female interpretation.

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The “e-cinema” site, which produced a ranking Palmes d’Or having accumulated the most admissions at their release, allows us to observe that other films have also had bad luck. There are 10 of them that did not exceed 300,000 admissions, among which Uncle Boonmee the one who remembers his past lives, awarded in 2010. The “median” number of admissions is about 900,000 for a Palm, the biggest hits having recorded more than 4 million admissions. Among them, the famous Apocalypse now, directed by Francis Ford Copolla.

An unfavorable context?

“The health pass killed Titanium”, estimates the producer of the film, Jean-Christophe Reymond, who deplored the tightening of the measures to fight against the epidemic, seeing there a major obstacle to the viewing of the Palme d’Or this year. According to him, the impact of these restrictions is quantifiable: while the film’s distributor was counting on 500,000 admissions thanks to the Cannes award, he no longer expects to cross the 300,000 mark. If the mandatory presentation of a health pass may have played a role, it is however necessary that other films currently screened manage to achieve good scores at the box office, the last opus ofOSS 117 with Jean Dujardin, or the film Kaamelott: First Stream Alexandre Astier in particular.

The producer, at Parisian, glide than “auteur films are more affected by the health pass”. Now he describes Titanium like “one of the rare French auteur films which was intended to reach young people, those who give up going to the cinema the most because of the pass”. Let us note in the discharge of Titanium that it is not a film as “mainstream” as other feature films in theaters cannot be, and that it has been banned for children under 16. Hence also, no doubt, the distributor’s reasonable ambitions before release.

Finally, we must also relate the success of a film to the period in which it is shown. The number of French people attending cinemas has varied greatly over the years. An informed cinephile, who has constituted a “Palme d’Or box office” took these disparities into account to weight the figures at its disposal. The Senate, in a 2003 report, indicated that between “1957 and 1992, cinema attendance” went “from 411 to 116 million admissions per year”, which makes it necessary to qualify the entry figures. In recent years, as an indication (and excluding Covid), attendance has been around 200 million annual admissions.

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Cinema: Does Titanium have the lowest results of a film crowned Palme d’Or?

Hank Gilbert