Nordic Region: Locals continue to shine among smaller fare

Territory Reports

B.O. cume (through August): $275 million*
Top title: “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” (Fox in Sweden, Denmark and Norway; FS Film in Finland; Sema in Iceland; cume: $19.3 million)
*total for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

“Inland Empire” (Triangelfilm)
“Lassie” (Svensk Filmindustri)
“The Tiger and the Snow” (Nordisk Film)
“Vers le sud” (NonStop Entertainment)
“Volver” (Sandrew Metronome Intl.)

“Johnny Was”: Multiracial thriller set in a violent under-world turning upon itself. Pic tells the story of a clash between London’s two most dangerous cultures — Jamaican drug gangs and dissident Irish republicans. A Danish-U.K.-Irish co-production helmed by Mark Hammond and toplining Vinnie Jones, Gerard McSorley and Samantha Mumba. In post. (Nordisk Film Sales)
“Moreno and the Silence”: The third film in the Van Veeteren series, based on Swedish bestselling crime novels by Hakan Nesser. Published in more than 20 countries, the character will be introduced Stateside and in the U.K. this fall. Helmer Erik Leijonborg is known for his TV work; lead thesp Sven Wollter is one of Sweden’s most popular actors. (Svensk Filmindustri)
“My Man the President”: With the third film in his U.S. trilogy on hold, helmer Lars von Trier tackles a Danish-language comedy about an IT firm that hires a failed actor to play the part of its company prexy. Stars Jens Albinus and Iben Hjejle. Production slated to start in February. (Trust Film Sales)

STOCKHOLM — While the absence of blockbusters and falling ticket sales weigh heavily on distributors in the Nordic region, the market for indie product is getting increasingly important.

The most striking trend in the region is the ongoing growth of local pics’ market share. In Denmark and Sweden, local films represented 33% (1.9 million admissions) and 25% (1.8 million), respectively, of total receipts in the first half of this year. Titles such as Denmark’s “The Sun King” and “Adam’s Apples,” and Sweden’s “Dalecarlians” scored at the B.O. just behind top title “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” in their home countries.

“Local productions are extremely successful at the box office,” says Sture Johansson, VP and chief booker of Swedish exhib SF Bio. “American independents do well, while the market for European indies has faded lately.” Horror films, thrillers and dramas are strong performers.

“The market is more unpredictable than it used to be. Only a few films succeed in reaching a great audience,” says Eivor Zimmerman, exec VP, acquisitions at Sandrew Metronome Intl.

Others agree. Nordisk Films distribution topper Michael Juncker uses the term “bestsellerism,” meaning that fewer and bigger films dominate the market. “This influences films from both American majors and independent companies. Also, there’s a tendency that unique or narrow products often are the most successful,” he says.

The number of theatrically released independent films has increased drastically in the Nordic region over the past years. Many local distribs find the diversified market problematic and this means that DVD largely accounts for the change. “Too many films are theatrically released as part of a campaign for a DVD release. It waters down the market,” complains SF Bio’s Johansson.

Local distributors insist, however, that the market for indie film sales to TV, cable and satellite is flourishing.

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