‘Death’ brings life to B.O.

Pic opened with large release of 50 prints

PRAGUE — Austria’s fascination with death is paying off at the box office. “Come, Sweet Death,” the comedy-thriller by popular director Wolfgang Murnberger, has racked up 215,000 admissions on its way to the 250,000 mark. That places it in the top-five Austrian all-time hits.

Pic stars cabaret performer Josef Hader and Berlinale “Shooting Star” Nina Proll and is based on the thriller by Austrian author Wolf Haas. Independent distributor Filmladen opened with a large release of 50 prints and still has more than half those running in local cinemas.

While “Come, Sweet Death” can’t equal the 600,000-admissions success of “Hinterholz 8” two years ago, it has outperformed last year’s hit, Florian Flicker’s “Hold Up,” now winding down its theatrical release with more than 120,000 admissions. Prior to “Hinterholz 8,” 60,000 admissions constituted a major distribution success for an Austrian film.

Ulrike Ladenbauer, coordinator of development and distribution at pic’s production company, DOR Film, says that since screenings at the Rotterdam and Berlin festivals, “We’re dealing with German companies, and there’s been interest from England.”

And Austrian Film Commission director Martin Schweighofer tells Variety the pic has supercharged the nation’s box office. “2001 started out really well because of ‘Come, Sweet Death,’ ” Schweighofer says. “It’s going to be a very, very good year.”

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