France 2 broadcasts this afternoon “Santa Claus is a junk”, cult film of the Splendid. Did you know that this comedy created controversy when it was released in 1982?
Flagship comedy of French cinema, Father Christmas is a junk tells of the eventful Christmas evening of a Parisian hotline, SOS distress-friendship, where the arrival of wacky marginal characters provokes chain disasters. The film is adapted from the play created in 1979 by the Splendid troupe, which originally wanted to call it “Santa Claus shot himself in the ass”. But this name is finally abandoned because deemed too provocative.
However, its final title “watered down”, which the film resumes three years later, does not please everyone either. When Jean-Marie Poiré’s feature film was released in 1982 and its poster campaign was launched, RATP considered the title to be “an attack on a childish myth”. It refuses, with the SNCF, to rent advertising spaces to promote this film which goes against their public service mission.
Same story with some cinema operators who go so far as to change the title to “Santa Claus (not the real one) is rubbish”. However, producer Yves Rousset-Rouard and distributor CCFC had tried to limit the damage by releasing the film in the height of summer, August 25, 1982. Faced with the situation, Jean-Marie Poiré declared at France Evening : “I would have dreamed that the film would be released for Christmas, just to add fuel to the fire. It would have been an exhilarating pleasure ” (quote from “Santa Claus is a Splendid junk!” by Christophe Narbonne and Sophie Benamon, First Classics n ° 10, January – March 2020).
In this context, the film brought together more than 1.5 million spectators when it was released in theaters. An honorable result, but below the 3 million admissions exceeded respectively in the same year by Les Sous-doués en vacances, La Boum 2 or Le Gendarme and les gendarmettes. It is thanks to VHS and over the reruns of television that the film will become cult.