After switching its focus from home entertainment to digital and theatrical distribution, Scanbox is now aiming to dive deeper into co-production and strike the right balance between upscale local movies and prestige pics.
Created in 1980, the shingle has gone through a radical strategy shift over the last two years: Although it hasn’t given up on DVD, it’s shut down its DVD facility and now relies on a third-party provider. Today, the company’s DVD business reps only about 20% of its income, whereas theatrical and VOD bring in half of it. With offices in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Göteborg and Helsinki, Scanbox handles approximately 20 theatrical releases per year.
Steering away from genre pics which fed its home entertainment pipeline, Scanbox has been packing up on high-profile U.S. releases such as Quentin Tarantino´s “Hateful 8” or English-language pics that can play to a sophisticated and/or mature audience like “Woman in Gold” with Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Brühl or even Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” with Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz.
Sigurjonsson points out “Woman In Gold” (pictured above) had a strong B.O. run in Scandinavia, where audiences appreciate movies that have a European sensibility. It grossed over $1.3 million in Denmark alone. “Woman in Gold” tells the true story of the late Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman who fled Austria during WWII and fought Austrian government for almost a decade to reclaim the painting of her aunt, Gustav Klimt’s iconic “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.”
Scanbox has certainly been able to ride through the storm thanks to the fact that it’s one of the rare Nordic companies with ties in Hollywood as well as in Scandinavia. Indeed, the shingle has been, for the last couple years, under the leadership of Joni Sighvatsson – an Iceland-born veteran industryite who’s lived in L.A. for four decades — and also counts Nicolas Chartier of Voltage Entertainment as shareholder, on top of Chris Briggs, a well-seasoned producer.
Meanwhile, Thor Sigurjonsson, who is based in Denmark, has a strong foothold in the Nordics and remains a shareholder in Zik Zak Filmworks and Profile Pictures. Via Profile Pictures, Thor Sigurjonsson notably co-produced Grímur Hákonarson’s “Rams” which went on to win Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and traveled worldwide.
Although Nordic auds are fond of U.S. fare, Sigurjonsson argues local audience still have an appetite for quality homegrown pics such as the family movie “Emma go julemanden” or director-driven movies that have traveled to festival such “My Skinny Sister” from first-time helmer Sanna Lenken.
Sigurjonsson told Variety Scanbox is now looking to invest more in local movies and is aiming to strike alliances with Norwegian producers to co-develop original movies and adaptations there. “So far we’ve been mostly involved in Swedish and Danish projects due to the relationships we have in place but we’re now very interested in Norway which boasts an interesting talent pool,” said Sigurjonsson.
Finland is also on Scanbox’s radar: The shingle tapped former Finnish Film Insitute exec Riina Liukkonen as head of Finnish production last October.
Scanbox is also about to venture into TV drama, revealed Sigurjonsson, who indicated the company is developing a bunch of shows that will mix English-language and local talent, in line with the shingle’s DNA.
Scanbox has direct distribution operations in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and worked with Norsk Filmdistribusjon in Norway.
Scanbox has deals with Scandinavia’s top streaming service Netflix as well as SVOD deals with Viaplay and CMore. Scanbox also has TVOD will all major players include iTunes and Google.
Upcoming Scanbox releases Nicolas Refn´s “The Neon Demon,”Todd Haynes’s Oscar-nominated “Carol” and Deniz Ergüven’s Turkish drama “Mustang,” which is nominated for a foreign language Oscar.