TVA bets on Piché

Distributor has high hopes for French-language bio drama with a $700,000 P&A push

The film TVA Films is billing as this year’s Quebec summer blockbuster, the $7 million Piché, entre ciel et terre opened on 95 screens across the province Wednesday to mixed reviews from critics.

TVA films has spent $700,000 marketing the film, which is inspired by the life of Robert Piché, the pilot who made headlines in 2001 after he successfully landed an Air Transat jet in the Azores after both engines had failed. A former alcoholic who now tours the province as an inspirational speaker, Piché has become a local celebrity in la belle province since landing the jet. Shortly after he landed the plane, journalists discovered that decades earlier Piché had been convicted of smuggling drugs into the United States from the Caribbean.

 Piché, entre ciel et terre

‘He’s a national hero. He’s a complex man. He has given more than 500 public talks about his experience to help people who have dealt with the same problems,’ GM of distribution at TVA Films, Sophie Aird tells Playback Daily. ‘He’s an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances. People relate to him.’

The film is directed by Sylvain Archambault — who made his big-screen directorial debut last fall with the flop Pour toujours les Canadiens — and written by Ian Lauzon (De père en flic). It stars beloved actor Quebec Michel Côté as Piché and Coté’s son Maxime LeFlaguais as the young Piché.

TVA Films decided to release the film in July because there are no other major Quebec releases in theatres this month and it’s a time when Quebecers tend to go to the movies.

‘It’s the same day De père was released last year. People are on holidays so they have time. And it tends to rain alot,’ Aird observes.

It remains to be seen whether the film will hit a note with Quebec audiences the same way De père did last year, when the cop comedy earned $10.5 million at the Quebec box office. While some French-language critics have praised the films, others were more reserved, comparing it at times to a TV movie. The Montreal Gazette said the film was often boring and confusing.

TVA Films plans to submit the film to festivals across Canada. No word yet on an English Canada release.