LOS ANGELES — For Roman Polanski, these may be the best of times, and these may be the worst of times.
His new film, “An Officer and a Spy,” finished first for the week ended Wednesday — despite calls for a boycott following a fresh rape accusation from actress Valentine Monnier, and despite Frances’ guild for directors, writers and producers proposing new rules for members under investigation or convicted of sexual crimes, which would lead to Polanski’s suspension.
“An Officer and a Spy,” starring Oscar winner Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel and Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner, had the strongest opening for Polanski in France in years with 501,000 tickets sold across 545 screens for the week ended Wednesday. His 2003 Oscar winner The Pianist sold 1.8 million tickets during its release, but recent films haven’t fared as well with 2013’s “Venus in Fur” topping out at 264,000 tickets and 2017’s “Based on a True Story” selling just 110,000.
Spy finished ahead of James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” which filled 403,000 seats over the week in France.
The strong first-week performance comes as the country’s writers, producers and directors guild ARP has moved to suspend Polanski and feminist groups have called for a boycott of the film, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The new accusations have sparked a fiery debate in France, where the film industry has long held that one should separate a director’s personal actions from his body of work.
Polanski, who’s now 86, pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a 13- year-old-girl in Los Angeles in 1977 as part of a plea bargain to avoid more serious charges and served 42 days in jail. He fled the U.S. before his final sentencing and remains a fugitive.
Government ministers have been weighing in on the issue of Polansky’s new film. Equality minister Marlene Schiappa said publicly that she would not see the film, a sentiment seconded by president Emmanuel Macron’s spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye. Culture minister Franck Riester said that Polanski’s past actions should be taken into account moving forward.
“A work, however great it is, does not excuse the possible mistakes of its author,” Riester said. “Talent is not a mitigating circumstance; genius, not a guarantee of impunity.”
However, prime minister Edouard Philippe said he would go see the film with his children as it touches on an important event in France’s history.
Monnier’s charges were revealed Nov. 8, when she told newspaper Le Parisien that Polanski violently raped her in 1975 in Switzerland when she was 18. The story was corroborated by contemporary sources, according to the Hollywood Reporter.him out of the Academy in 2018.