Swedish pic takes $2.2 million

STOCKHOLM — Svensk’s “Arn — The Knight Templar” achieved the biggest opening ever for a Swedish pic when it was unwrapped on Christmas Day.

In its first two days, pic pulled in 160,310 admissions and a gross of 14,336,235 kroner ($2,240,000) from 207 prints, delivering a $10,821 screen average.

Previous record holder was last year’s comedy “Gota Kanal 2,” which took 141,329 admissions in the first two days, earning a gross of 11,274,436 kroner ($1,761,630).

“Arn — The Knight Templar” is directed by Peter Flinth and stars Joakim Natterqvist as Arn. Cast also includes Sofia Helin, Stellan Skarsgard, Michael Nyqvist, Vincent Perez and Simon Callow.

With a budget of 210 million kroner ($33 million), the “Arn” double bill is Scandinavia’s most expensive production ever. The two features — the second of which will be released in the fall — are about a Swedish knight who fights in the Crusades and then returns home to become a national leader.

There will also be a TV series, to be aired in Sweden by pubcaster TV4 in 2009, and an international feature version, hewn from the two Swedish pics. The international version has been sold to 10 countries, among them Russia, China and Brazil. Swedish distrib and shingle Svensk and sales agent Telepool will continue to shop the film at Berlin and Cannes.

Commenting on the opening box office figures, producer Valdemar Bergendahl told Variety: “It is fantastic. We had expected high figures, but this exceeds our expectations.”

The Swedish reviews ranged from positive to negative with the majority falling somewhere in-between. Bergendal said: “It was expected. But I’m happy with all the copy that has been written about the film. It has shown what great interest there is in it.”

The Swedish version will unspool in neighboring Scandi countries in the next two months.

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