Alliance Vivafilm turns to crowd-pleasers for 2011

Good Neighbours

Pictured: Jacob Tierney’s thriller Good Neighbors

MONTREAL — After a few homegrown film d’auteur disappointments at the Quebec box office for Alliance Vivafilm, the Montreal-based distributor will focus on releasing mainstream crowd-pleasers in 2011, says president Patrick Roy.

“A couple of years ago we decided to reduce the number of Quebec films we release and focus on the ones which will hit a note with the largest audience,” Roy told Playback Daily.

Despite the release of a number of potential hits last year, the box office for homegrown Quebec films in 2010 dropped to 9% from 13% the previous year, its lowest level since 2002.

Two hard-hitting films Route 132, produced by Denis Robert, and 101/2, directed by PODZ, drew a paltry $300,000 in receipts, perhaps because their sombre themes were a turn-off for viewers, says Roy. Both films are part of a slate of films dealing with grief and loss produced in the province last year, including Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies – which is nominated for an Oscar in the Foreign-language category. Although Incendies stands out from the pack – it exceeded the $2.3 million mark after only eight weeks in theatres.

Incendies is the exception to the rule,” says Roy. “But we did have many films in Quebec this year which were dealing with difficult subject matter. They got good reviews but they didn’t do well. For us it’s a question of economics. We don’t want to lose money.”

But it’s not just bleak flicks which aren’t faring well. Alliance Vivafilm’s Filière 13, directed by Patrick Huard and featuring the same cast as the box office smash comedy 3 petits cochons drew $1,747,400 in 2010, not bad for a Quebec film but it was hardly the hit its producers expected.

Alliance also got behind L’Appat, starring comic Guy A. Lepage which received lukewarm reviews and also performed below expectations, having so far made only $1.35 million at the box office.

But 2011 looks bright for Alliance, says Roy. C.R.A.Z.Y director Jean-Marc Vallée’s upcoming Cafe de Flore, starring Vanessa Paradis and Kevin Parent is on their slate as well as Émile Gaudreault’s Le sens de l’humour, starring beloved actors Michel Côté and Louis-José Houde who both starred in Fathers and Guns.

Alliance will also release the first feature by director Michel Monty, Une vie qui commence, January 21st and two other Quebec films sometime in 2011: Bo$$e Inc., starring celebrated comic Guy A. Lepage and Jacob Tierney’s thriller Good Neighbors. “Our goal is to release films, whether they be film d’auteur or not, that we fall in love with and that we think the maximum number of people will like,” says Roy.

Basking in the glory of Incendies’ success distributor Christian Larouche (Les Films Christal) says he’s enthusiastic about the future: “My rule is it has to be a good script and a good film.” Larouche is releasing six Quebec films in 2011, including d’Alain DesRochers’ La vie de Gerry Boulet, Ken Scott’s Starbuck and the latest film by award-winning director Philippe Falardeau Bashir Lazhar.