‘A Little Something Extra,’ Starring Actors With Disabilities, Dethrones ‘Dune 2’ at French Box Office and Sparks Remake Deals

A decade after “La Famille Belier,” which was remade as the Oscar-winning “CODA,” another comedy featuring protagonists with disabilities, “A Little Something Extra” has stormed the French box office. It’s not only the year’s biggest hit so far, but the highest grossing French movie since before the pandemic.

Released May 1 by Pan Distribution and modestly budgeted at €6.1 million ($6.55 million), the feel-good movie (called “Un p’tit truc en plus” in French) has grossed an estimated €50.7 million ($54 million) from 7.2 million tickets sold as of June 16 — two times more than Warner Bros. tentpole “Dune 2” starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya.

It’s a mighty feat, considering that that unlike “La Famille Belier,” in which the deaf and speech-disabled characters are played by bankable European stars — Karin Viard and Francois Damiens — “A Little Something Extra” has an ensemble cast of young non-professionals with different types of disabilities.

The movie, produced by Pierre Forette and Thierry Wong at Paris-based Cine Nomine, is currently playing on 1,000 screens across France and is still luring more moviegoers after more than six weeks in theaters. Comscore France analyst Eric Marti says the movie is now on track to surpass “La Famille Belier” and become the fourth-biggest French hit since 2010, behind “Intouchables,” “Serial Bad Weddings” and “Nothing to Declare.”

“It’s a very impressive track record for this film,” says Marti, pointing out that it wasn’t released by a vertically-integrated group like Gaumont, UGC and Pathé, who distributed the previous top three movies, and it doesn’t have huge stars. Marti adds that “A Little Something Extra’s” success underscores the movie’s genuine qualities.

“A Little Something Extra” marks the feature directing debut of Artus, a well-known French standup comedian who also stars alongside Clovis Cornillac (“Brice de Nice”) as a son and his father who rob a shop in a small town and hop on a bus to lay low without realizing that it’s taking them to a summer camp for young adults with disabilities.

Other Angle, which is repping international sales on the movie, pre-sold it to Benelux (Vertigo), Switzerland (Praesens), Canada (AZ Films) and has now scored more deals with major distributors around the world, including Germany (Square One), Italy (Eagle), Scandinavia (Scanbox), Switzerland (Praesens), Belgium (Vertigo), Australia (Moving Story), Portugal (Films4U), Israel (Shoval), Russia (Volga) and the Netherlands (Searchers). Other Angle is having advanced talks with U.S., U.K., Latin America, Eastern Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Middle East and Africa. The remake rights have already been snatched up by Eagle Pictures in Italy and Other Angle is fielding offers from Germany, Russia, Spain, Latin America and China.

The movie reteams Cine Nomine and Other Angle, which previously collaborated on “Blind Date” (“Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément”), another directorial debut by an actor-turned-filmmaker, Cornillac. Like “A Little Something Extra,” “Blind Date” was sold around the world and was remade in Spain and South Korea.

Speaking to Variety about the genesis of “A Little Something Extra,” Forette and Wong admit that the movie took nearly a village to get financed even with a small budget.

“It’s a first film, a full-on comedy with a cast of disabled non-professionals, so not easy on paper, but our TV partners, M6 and Canal+ committed right away. They shared our enthusiasm for the project, but then finding the distributor was much more difficult,” says Forette. The producer explains that the banner tried in vain to get SND, the distribution arm of M6, on board but “they couldn’t take it because they had just picked up ‘Kamelot,'” another movie pre-bought by M6.

The producers then had the idea of approaching Philippe Godeau, the producer and distributor who had handled movies touching on disabilities “Le huitieme jour” and “Presque.” But even that proved more difficult than expected.

“(Godeau) was interested in our film but his company was just going through a restructuring (it welcomed Vuelta as its shareholder and rebooted its distribution division) so he told us he couldn’t give us a minimum guarantee,” said Wong. He and Forette ultimately decided to give him the film nonetheless and set off to raise the minimum guarantee from different sources.

“It was a long journey to source this MG; we got it together from nine partners,” says Wong, citing financial institutions, Cineaxe, Entourage and Cinecap; as well as BNParibas’ fund dedicated to first films, as well as three indie producers, Vincent Roger at Same Player, who is currently behind Netflix’ hit shark movie “Under Paris,” Echo Studio and Cabo. Wong says he and Forette also had to put their own money into the movie to close the gap.

A Little Something Extra
Producers Thierry Wong and Pierre Forette

Artus first approached Forette and Wong during the shoot of “Si on chantait,” a film they were producing in which he had a role. “He came up to us one evening to tell us that he wanted to direct for the first time and had this project in mind — a comedy with actors with different disabilities that was inspired by one of his sketches, about disabled athletes, that he had presented at a standup festival in Montreux,” says Wong.

Forette says he and Wong watched the sketch on YouTube and found it “very funny and in-your-face,” and Artus assured them that viewers hadn’t found the comedy offensive. “After making this sketch, Artus was contacted by the Paralympic Games and Handicap International, along with a flood of messages from people with disabilities who said ‘thank you for treating us like anyone else,'” said Forette. “It was perceived as a gesture of inclusiveness.”

After Artus enlisted two screenwriters, Clément Marchand and Milan Mauger, he paused the writing process to cast the characters with disabilities who are part of the ensemble cast. Wong says “Artus was adamant about casting non-professionals for those parts and felt that he had to find these people before writing all the dialogue so that he would be inspired.”

Wong and Forette then launched an open-call casting on social media and organized three days of auditions in Paris. “We auditioned people from all over France to come up with the final 11 characters who all have very colorful personalities and Artus integrated all their humorous facets,” says Forette, who explains that the cast included a hardcore tattooed fan of singer Dalida, and another one who is obsessed with disguises.

While it’s now widely released on 1000 screens, “A Little Something Extra” initially opened on half as many screens. The primary factor that drove up ticket sales, Wong says, was the promotion that Artus himself did for the film while touring France with his standup show from January to April. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better promotion because he showed people the trailer for the film every time he was on stage and presented them with a QR code that they had to scan to reserve seats for the premieres,” says Forette.

“It went viral instantly. All the screenings we organized prior to the release were very well attended and sold over 27,000 tickets,” he continues. The movie was quickly embraced by exhibitors, especially the multiplex chain CGR, and became a hit all over France before it attracted Parisian audiences en masse.

Like some of the highest grossing French comedies such as “Intouchables,” “A Little Something Extra” has also been luring all type of audiences, from young people to families and seniors. Forette says he and Wong are most proud of the fact that roughly 50% of the film’s admissions have been purchased by “occasional” moviegoers according to studies breaking down the movie’s public.

“It’s been very heartwarming to read some of the comments that people have left after seeing the film, saying that they hadn’t seen a movie in cinema for a long time and it made them want to come back,” says Forette.

Another thing that’s uplifting about the success of “A Little Something Extra,” Wong says, is that it could inspire more producers to come on board first films that may not have an easy pitch. “Our case confirms that the box office is not an exact science and sometimes you have to trust your gut feelings,” says Wong.

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