War of the Buttons: a Battle of Remakes




“Si j’aurais su, je ne serais pas venu” the grammatically incorrect cult phrase (*) of the 1962 film La Guerre des Boutons is set to return to French cinema screens with the September rentrée thanks to two fiercely competing remakes to be released within a week of each other.

War of the Buttons in two remakes on your screen in September

(Read more online French News here)
This great classic of French cinema, The War of the Buttons directed by Yves Robert (highly regarded for two subsequent films  La Gloire de mon père and  Le Château de ma mère) in 1962 was adapted from the novel published in 1912 by Louis Pergaud and proved a huge box office success in France selling 10 million tickets.

The storyline was an attractive one writes Alexis Lucchesi in France Soir —  a battle carried on year after year between kids in two neighbouring villages – Longeverne and Velrans with the film-maker adapting the film to fit France as it was then under de Gaulle.

Now half a century later, another new and disarming fight is  shaping up, this time between two big-name French film producers  — Thomas Langmann and Marc du Pontavice and their backers —  equally determined to release remakes of the 1962 film as a rentrée blockbuster spectacular in September.

The two new films bear almost identical titles La Nouvelle Guerre des boutons (Langmann, set in 1944 ) and La Guerre des boutons (Pontavice, set in the 1960s).

Producer Langmann’s team includes the director Christophe Barratier, among whose earlier box office hits were  36 Faubourg and the wildly popular  Les Choristes. Langmann himself counts among his directing successes  Astérix aux jeux Olympiques, which however failed to live up to audience expectations. Pontavice and his director Yann Samuell who raised 12.6 million euros for their film, spent almost two months filming on location along the Limousin and Poitou-Charentes border.

Despite attempts to persuade the two producers to release their films a year apart, neither would give way. More bizarrely French TV station TF1, convinced that one of the two films would end up not being made,  has signed contracts with both producers,  so viewers will be seeing the two remakes.

When Mars Films, the distributor of the Langmann-Barratier film realised it had a war on its hands. it announced a release date of September 28 – this at a time when shooting was only due to complete at end  July! To meet this very tight, self- imposed deadline the producer trebled the size (and cost) of the montage team.

Over on the other side of the Maginot line  UGC,  distributing the Pontavice-Samuell version, had initially scheduled its release for November 23 but quickly moved this forward to  September 14,  a week before their competitor.

“Crazy”,  noted one film industry insider — cited by  Christophe Carrière film editor at L’Express — and remarking on a new (but hardly dignified) landmark in French cinema history:   “This is a battle about  money and ego that is doing nothing for the honour and reputation of French cinema”, the source said,  a view said to be widely-held in the industry.

The fight for the best release date appears however to have been won by Mars Films. Christophe Carrière writes that newspaper film editors and writers are all on holiday in August and Mars publicists claim they had prepared for the eventuality. “We’re not naive, we have already made our media presentation… before the summer break.”

Both films offer some differences: ” One is set in the 1940s,  a dramatic period in French history. The other is set at a more exhilarating time, the 1960s, against the backdrop of Algerian war … ” say Pontavice.  The million euro question is whether film fans  will be curious enough to pay twice to see the two versions. However the drama does not end there. According to Christophe Carrière, Gaumont film distributors are proposing to screen a digital-remastered version of Yves Robert’s original 1962 film over the Michaelmas (Toussaint) holidays!

Plenty of fight left in the War of the Buttons it would seem.

Story: Ken Pottinger
editorial@french-news-online.com

(*) This cult phrase became just that because it trampled on grammar:
“Si j’aurais su, je ne serais pas venu!” (if I would have known, I would not have come) – this phrase and my direct translation are simply not correct. Remember that the rule is never use a conditional expression after “si” (if). Instead use imparfait – “si j’avais su, je ne serais pas venu!” (if I HAD known, I would not have come). Hat tip: Dan at Agathoune

More reading:
Pour les articles homonymes, voir La Guerre des boutons.
Synopsis : Deux villages, Longeverne et Velrans, sont en guerre.
La Guerre des boutons or War of the Buttons is a 1962 French film…

Other films that have faced similar bitter duels include:

1988 Les Liaisons dangereuses, Stephen Frears (1 695 208 tickets sold) vs. Valmont, by Milos Forman (675 690 tickets sold).

 

1991 Robin des Bois, with Patrick Bergin (released straight onto  DVDin the US ) vs Robin des Bois, with Kevin Costner (395 million dollars at the box-office).

2009
Coco avant Chanel,  by Anne Fontaine (1 030 000 tickets sold ) vs Coco Chanel et Igor Stravinsky, by Jan Kounen (130 000 tickets sold).

Version Samuell:

Version Barratier:

 

 

 

The Rentrée- 2011

Prepare for the Battle of the Buttons

Still from... ?
Two remakes of a classic film spark box office war
Want a Fight? Try the Battle of the Buttons.
A war sans merci will soon be waged in French movie theatres nationwide, as rival production teams prepare to release two new adaptations of a 50-year-old French classic – just a week apart.Two big-name French film producers — Thomas Langmann and Marc du Pontavice and their backers — are equally determined that their own version of the remake of the 1962 film – The War of the Buttons will be the blockbuster of the season. The new screenplays are being released shortly ahead of the date in October when copyright on the Pergaud book, on which the original screenplay was based, falls into the public domain.

But will the austerity-hit film going public be prepared to pay twice to see the competing versions?.

buttons war La Guerre des Buttons poster
A double treat two for the price of well…. two!

Cult Phrase Tortures Grammar.

Si j’aurais su, je ne serais pas venu

the grammatically incorrect cult phrase of the 1962 film “La Guerre des Boutons”, is set to return to French cinema screens with the September Rentrée, thanks to two fiercely competing remakes to be released within a week of each other.

The War of the Buttons – Original
This great classic of French cinema, “The War of the Buttons”, directed by Yves Robert (highly regarded for two subsequent films “La Gloire de Mon Père and “Le Château de Ma Mère”) in 1962, was adapted from the novel published in 1912 by Louis Pergaud and proved a huge box office success in France selling 10 million tickets. ‘The storyline was an attractive one’, writes Alexis Lucchesi in France Soir… a battle carried on year after year between kids in two neighbouring villages Longeverne and Velrans, with the film-maker adapting the film to fit France as it was then under de Gaulle.

The War of the Buttons – New
Now half a century later, another new and disarming fight is shaping up, this time between two big-name French film producers – Thomas Langmann and Marc du Pontavice and their backers – equally determined to release remakes of the 1962 film as a rentrée blockbuster spectacular in September 2011. The two new films bear almost identical titles “La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons” (Langmann, set in 1944) and “La Guerre des Boutons” (Pontavice, set in the 1960s).

La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons - to view full size poster - click here
La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons
– click image above to view full size poster –

La Guerre des Boutons - click to pop-up the trailer

– click the clapperboard above to view the trailer –

Version 1 – La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons
Producer Langmann’s team includes the director Christophe Barratier, among whose earlier box office hits were “36 Faubourg” and the wildly popular “Les Choristes”. Langmann himself counts among his directing successes Astérix aux jeux Olympiques, which however failed to live up to audience expectations.

La Guerre des Boutons - to view full size poster - click here

La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons
– click image above to view full size poster –

La Guerre des Boutons - click to pop-up the trailer

– click the clapperboard above to view the trailer –

Version 2 – La Guerre des Boutons
Pontavice and his director Yann Samuell who raised 12.6 million euros for their film, spent almost two months filming on location along the Limousin and Poitou-Charentes border. Despite attempts to persuade the two producers to release their films a year apart, neither would give way. More bizarrely French TV station TF1, convinced that one of the two films would end up not being made, has signed contracts with both producers, so viewers will be seeing the two remakes.

Release Dates
When Mars Films, the distributor of the Langmann-Barratier film, realised it had a war on its hands. it announced a release date of September 28… this at a time when shooting was only due to complete at end July! To meet this very tight, self- imposed deadline the producer trebled the size (and cost) of the montage team.

Over on the other side of the Maginot line UGC, distributing the Pontavice-Samuell version, had initially scheduled its release for November 23 but quickly moved this forward to September 14, a week before their competitor. ‘Crazy’, noted one film industry insider, cited by Christophe Carrière film editor at L’Express, and remarking on a new (but hardly dignified) landmark in French cinema history:

‘This is a battle about money and ego that is doing nothing for the honour and reputation of French cinema’

… the source said. A view said to be widely-held in the industry.

The fight for the best release date appears however to have been won by Mars Films. Christophe Carrière writes that newspaper film editors and writers are all on holiday in August and Mars publicists claim they had prepared for the eventuality. ‘We’re not naive, we have already made our media presentation before the summer break.’

Both films offer some differences: One is set in the 1940s, a dramatic period in French history (“La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons”).

The other (“La Guerre des Boutons”) ‘is set at a more exhilarating time, the 1960s, against the backdrop of Algerian war ‘, says Pontavice.

The million euro question is whether film fans will be curious enough to pay twice to see the two versions.

War of the Buttons 3?
However the drama does not end there. According to Christophe Carrière, Gaumont film distributors are proposing to screen a digital-remastered version of Yves Robert’s original 1962 film over the Michaelmas (Toussaint) holidays!

Plenty of fight left in the War of the Buttons it would seem.

Links
La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons – click here to pop up trailer
La Guerre des Boutons – click here to pop up trailer
La Nouvelle Guerre des Buttons – official website
Guerre des Boutons – official website

 



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