- Set in France’s hickish north, Dany Boon’s comedy Welcome to the Sticks / Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis is already the biggest domestic hit ever at the French box office – and it may well be on its way to replacing Titanic as France’s biggest blockbuster regardless of provenance.
‘Fish out of water’ comedy Welcome to the Sticks / Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis breaks French box office record
Welcome to the Sticks / Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (literally, “Welcome to the Ch’tis”), a “fish out of water” comedy that revolves around French regional stereotypes, has been seen by more than 17.4 million French moviegoers since its Feb. 27 release.
According to Agence France Presse, that makes Welcome to the Sticks the most successful French movie in history – in ticket sales, the true measure of a film’s popularity – surpassing the 1966 Louis de Funès comedy La grande vadrouille, which sold 17.3 million tickets.
And if ticket sales remain strong, Welcome to the Sticks may end up surpassing James Cameron’s 1997 romantic/disaster epic Titanic (20.7 million entries) to become the most successful release ever at the French box office.
Ch’ti native Dany Boon
Welcome to the Sticks was directed by Dany Boon – himself a Ch’ti (from Armentières, Hauts-de-France) – who also co-wrote the film’s screenplay with Alexandre Charlot and Franck Magnier.
Boon, a two-time Best Supporting Actor César Award nominee (Merry Christmas, 2005; The Valet, 2006), is also one of the Welcome to the Sticks stars, along with Algerian-born Kad Merad (who, beating Boon, won the 2006 Best Supporting Actor César for Don’t Worry, I’m Fine).
The plot is simple – one might say cliché-ridden – enough: At the command of his superiors, a postal worker (Kad Merad) moves from the Mediterranean to the Nord Pas de Calais region bordering Belgium. He’s not at all happy at first, but once he finally manages to communicate with the locals – who speak an impossible-to-understand French dialect – he discovers that the Ch’tis are a nice little bunch after all.
To date, Welcome to the Sticks has grossed 99 million euros (approx. US$153 million). Budget: 11 million euros (approx. US$17 million).
Welcome to the Sticks cast
Besides Dany Boon and Kad Merad, the Welcome to the Sticks cast includes Zoé Félix, Lorenzo Ausilia-Foret, Anne Marivin, Stéphane Freiss, Alexandre Carrière, and veterans Line Renaud (The Indestructible) and Michel Galabru (La Cage aux Folles & Renaud’s husband in The Indestructible).
Welcome to the Sticks’ credited producers are Jérôme Seydoux and veteran producer-director Claude Berri (Jean de Florette, The Bear).
Lastly, as per the AFP report, the nickname Ch’ti “emerged during World War I when soldiers from the region were teased by comrades about their prononciation [sic] of ch’est ti, ch’est mi instead of c’est toi, c’est moi (it’s you, it’s me).”
“French Box Office” endnotes
Dany Boon and Kad Merad Welcome to the Sticks / Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis image: Pathé Distribution.
“French Box Office: Hick Comedy Is Biggest Domestic Hit Ever” last updated in February 2022.