Films like “Bean,” “Men in Black” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” have pushed Finnish admissions in the first three quarters of 1997 up by 9.59% over figures for the same period in 1996.

The Cinema Owners Assn. reports that admissions jumped from 3.8 million in the first three quarters of 1996 to 4.1 million for 1997 in Finland. “Bean” was particularly powerful. Released in August, it has picked up some 350,000 visitors in Finland and the numbers are still rising.

At 1.1 per capita admissions, Finland is a country with one of the worst admissions rates in Europe, but a new frenzy of plex-building and activity on the distribution front is expected to give a shine to its usual tawdry film performance.

Finnish exhibitor Finnkino just greenlighted plans to build a new 10-screen, 1,680-seater in the university town of Tampere by spring 1999, on top of a new 14-screener in downtown Helsinki being planned for next year. New competition from Sandrews Metronome, which also plans to open a new 10-screener in Helsinki next year, is expected to bring even more cinema fans to the theaters.

But activity on the distribution front could also woo more cinemagoers. BVI announced recently it would open its new office in Finland next year and has lured Juha Makela, one of the co-founders of Finnkino, to be its new general manager. Makela has been serving as distribution manager for Finnkino since the company was taken over by newspaper kiosk chain Rautakirja several years ago.

Makela says BVI will be taking an active interest in picking up and promoting Finnish film with the first on the roster being “The Summer by the River,” by “Last Wedding” director Markku Polonen.

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