BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 4 February, 1999, 17:16 GMT
The magic runs out for Asterix
Asterix & Obelix contre Caesar: Will cinema-goers flock to see it?
Asterix and Obelix, the famous Gallic comic-book characters, have been brought to life in the what could be the most expensive flop in French film history.

The live action movie has opened to poor reviews, with one critic commenting that he was "bored senseless" by the film.

Featuring Gerard Depardieu as the overweight Obelix and French comic actor Christian Clavier as the spry Asterix, the film cost 270 million francs ($48.2m ). Film-makers were hoping it would help to redefine the country's cinema which is currently in a slump.

'The bubble has burst'

Hopes were high for the film to give a boost to the French film industry
Le Parisien news paper asked "Where did the magic potion go?" in a front page headline. "Tragic potion," echoed France Soir.

"The move from comic book to film has fatally put an end to a dream," Liberation newspaper said. "The bubble has burst."

Andre Bercoff, critic for France Soir said: "Yes, I confess it, I'm a traitor to French cinema. After a few minutes full of hope, I ended up bored senseless by Asterix and Obelix."

Producer still confident

French pride as well as lot of money is at stake. Last year the epic Titanic attracted nearly 21 million cinema goers in France, beating previous audience figures set by the French film La Grande Vadrouille, which had been at number one since 1966.

The film's producer Claude Berri is confident that them general public will ignore the critics and flock to the cinemas.

"I cannot see anything less than 10 million viewers," Berri told Liberation, adding that it needed five million to break even.

Hollwood vs Asterix

Titanic was a record breaking hit in France last year
The industry needs a boost after 1998 when French movies only took 26% of box-office earnings - with the majority of the rest going to Hollywood blockbusters.

Asterix & Obelix contre Caesar (Asterix and Obelix against Caesar) has all the main ingredients for a blockbuster film - plenty of money, big stars and state-of-the-art special effects.

It is an inspiring and amusing tale of how a tiny Gallic village outwits mighty Rome. The theme will be familiar to fans of the cult duo.

See the movie, buy the doll

Gerard Depardieu said the film was important for french culture
A massive promotional campaign is under way in France in an attempt to give the film the best start possible. Posters are plastered on billboards around the country and shops are overflowing with T-shirts, sweatshirts and scarves, and Asterix and Obelix dolls are likely to follow.

Speaking in Le Figaro magazine before the film's release Gerard Depardieu said he was confident of the film's success.

" I like the idea of bringing cartoon characters to life... and although the Americans have already attempted this, their culture is not sufficiently humane to make it work," he said.

The two heroes will surely bounce back from a few bad reviews - they after all used to popularity.

Since 1961, more than 150 million Asterix books, created by writer R Goscinny and illustrator A Uderzo, have been printed in more than 54 languages and dialects.

Pictures courtesy of Renn Productions

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories