In the cinema, it has often happened that a work leaves room for numerous adaptations. But what happens when these two adaptations come out the same year, a few days apart? This was the case of “The War of the Buttons”, which had two versions in 2011.
The War of the Buttons : If I had known, I would not have come
In 1912, the Franche-Comté writer Louis Perigaud obtained recognition with a funny book: The War of the Buttons. Indeed, the novel follows the rivalry between two rival gangs from neighboring villages at each new school year. The principle is simple: in addition to the fights provoked, the vanquished have their buttons confiscated as a form of humiliationbefore being sent home.
The novel will become so popular that it will inspire another equally famous one: His Majesty of the Flieswritten by the British William Golding in 1954. Thereafter, we will find three film adaptations of The War of the Buttons, the most famous of which is undoubtedly that of 1962directed by Yves Robert.
In 2011, a new adaptation of The War of the Buttonsdirected by Yann Samuell (Child games). We find there in particular Eric Elmosnino, Mathilde Seigner, Fred Testot and Alain Chabat. Alongside this adaptation, Yann Samuell has to deal with another: The New Button Wardirected by Christophe Barratier (The chorists)
War in the Halls
This imbroglio comes in fact from the fact that the novel had fallen into the public domain. Therefore, everyone was then free to adapt The War of the Buttons without having to buy copyrights. The producer Marc du Pontavice draws the first by announcing in April 2010 a film adaptation of the novel with Yann Samuell in the making and whose filming should begin in April.
Except that the omnipotent producer Thomas Langmann (who notably produced Asterix at the Olympic Games) offers to collaborate with him to make an animated film instead The War of the Buttons. De Pontavice refuses, which leads Langmann to also build another adaptation of the famous novel. As stipulated the Obsthe goal was neither more nor less to short-circuit Yann Samuell’s film:
He quickly ordered a script. Won in extremis the financing of Canal+. And applied to pulverize the competing project. Pressure on the bankers, enticing offers to discourage the actors, who climbed for the director up to 800,000 euros.
A fierce promotion battle takes place between the two productions. We will retain as main feats of arms the attempt of the two films to obtain the famous line “If I would have known, I would not have come” which comes from the film by Yves Robert and not from the novel or even the threats ( not proven) of Langmann on the technicians of Yann Samuell. This war reaches its final outcome when Langmann wants to release his film on September 28, i.e. two months before that of Pontavice. Except that the latter does not let himself be done and leaves it on September 14, forcing its competitor to release it on September 21.
At the box office, the two will obtain a box score almost identical: 1.4 million for The War of the Buttons and 1.5 million for The New Button War. Same thing for the criticism which will be severe with one Gerard from cinema each for the two adaptations. Ball in the middle!