‘Elling’ prequel tops Norway

Pic breaks country's B.O. records

The prequel to helmer Petter Naess’ local smash “Elling” broke this year’s box office record in Norway this weekend.

Helmer Eva Isaksen’s “Mother’s Elling” took $672,130. “With 72,004 admissions, it is the biggest launch of a Norwegian film so far,” said Liv Jacobsen, managing director of Norway’s UIP, which released the film on 72 prints.

Based on novels by Ingvar Ambjornsen, “Mother’s Elling” was scripted by Axel Hellstenius and produced on a $2 million budget by Dag Alveberg’s Maipo Film & TV Produksjon, with Per Christian Ellefsen reprising the lead. Ellefsen first played Elling onstage; he will also star in “Love Me Tomorrow,” the last part of the trilogy, which Alveberg has scheduled for a 2005 shoot.

Included in Maipo’s four-picture Scandinavian distribution deal with Universal, “Mother’s Elling” follows the mentally retarded hero’s vacation to Spain with his mother (Grete Nordra), who is ill.

The first film was licensed to 18 territories, including the U.S. (First Look Pictures), and sold 400,000 tickets in Germany.

The film’s performance adds to the success of domestic productions this year. Some 1.6 million tickets were sold by late September, for a market share of 20.2%, according to statistics published Monday by the Norwegian Film Fund. It expects 2003 to be the best in 25 years for local cinema.

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