Dutch pic has recipe to top Lecter at B.O.

'Costa!' causes stir in Holland

AMSTERDAM — How do you push an ordinary teenybopper Dutch pic over the top so that it beats out even box office topper “Hannibal”?

Well, to begin with, “Costa!,” a pic directed by soap producer Johan Nihenhaus, is no ordinary Dutch pic. It is one of the first romantic comedies in Holland aimed at the 12-20-year-old crowd, it has the largest batch of marquee names the territory has ever seen — and it’s possibly the only film where cinemagoers helped to choose the cast.

And if that isn’t enough, it also has had an American-style multimedia marketing blitz such as has never before been seen in Dutch cinema.

“From the very beginning, we involved the audience with our Web site, www.costamovie.com, asking them to help choose a cast,” producer San Fu Maltha tells Variety.

Maltha, owner of production company Fu Works as well as a part owner of “Costa!” distribber A-Film, describes the pic as a “pure romantic feel-good (movie) aimed at teens, and the first film in Holland to really shoot for that. We’ve made films like ‘Little Crumb’ and ‘Abel’ for kids and they’ve done well, but not really anything for the teen crowd.”

A-Film blanketed the territory with every media spot it could get its hands on, from billboards and posters to a heavy rash of TV, radio and print ads, to a continuous stream of info delivered to its Web site. A quickly cranked-out companion book is a top 10 seller at book-and-mag chain Bruna!, and the CD, “Costa! Latin & Danceparty,” is also scaling Dutch compilation charts.

All the fuss has clearly paid off. Pic, which stars Georgina Verbaan, Katja Schuurman and Daan Schuurmans, unceremoniously kicked “Hannibal” out of first place at the box office for the week of March 15-21, bringing in 1.3 million guilders ($520,000) against Hannibal’s $460,000. Pic has been boosted by another $1.9 million (in a country of 15 million) making the pic one of the top 10 Dutch B.O. hits of all time — and that’s just in its third week out.

Pic was produced by Solo Film, a company owned by former Endemol topper Joop van den Ende and Jos van der Linden, Fu Works and Johan Nijenhuis Produkties, in co-production with Dutch broadcaster BNN.

“Costa!” was lensed in the Spanish resort town of Salou and in dance clubs in Holland and Belgium. It’s set for release in Belgium April 18.

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