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Danish film industry on verge of bankruptcy

Report sends shockwaves through biz

COPENHAGEN — The Danish film industry is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a report commissioned by the Assn. of Danish Film Producers.

Only one feature in five recoups production costs and less than one in 10 is profitable enough to provide financing for new projects.

The report concludes that only two companies — Regner Grasten Film and Per Holst Film (now merged with Nordisk Film) — are making money from feature production.

Paring down pics

“The only solution is to reduce the number of films being made, in order to better support each project,” said producers org chairman and Nordisk Film managing director Erik Crone.

While the Danish Film Institute received a $55 million cash boost from the Culture Ministry in 1998 to finance 25 pics a year, the country’s 28 independent producers now get less support for each project and have to find private investment. State money once covered 70%-80% of the budget — the average is now less than 50%.

And the 60%-40% scheme, which releases public finance of 60% if the producer brings in 40%, has a $600,000 maximum.

Producers have protested that they can not finance 25 films annually, and exhibitors say they do not have enough slots to program them.

Last year, Danish helmer Lars von Trier won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival for “Dancer in the Dark” and Lone Scherfig’s “Italian for Beginners” was awarded a Silver Bear at the 2001 Berlinale, but that global buzz did not help local films at the domestic box office in 2000: Admissions dipped to 2 million last year from 3 million in 1999. That represents a market share of 19%, down from 28%.

The producers org has given the report, compiled by PLS Ramboll Management and presented Monday, to the Culture Ministry, the film institute, and pubcasters DR-TV and TV2.

Both ministry and institute claim that 24 productions annually are necessary to maintain local market share.

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