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Wajda’s ‘Pan’ sets Polish B.O. records

Ex-pats pack stateside bow

MOSCOW — Domestic fare is dominating box office in Poland, with Andrzej Wajda’s pic “Pan Tadeusz” setting records for the decade.

The film, an adaptation of a work by Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz, scored a huge 3.8 million admissions in the first month after its Oct. 22 opening; box office to date stands at 57 million zloty ($13.6 million).

Distribs launched pic on an unprecedented 99 screens, with opening weekend notching up 425,000 admissions alone, after tickets sold out almost two weeks in advance.

Written at the beginning of the 19th century, “Pan Tadeusz,” subtitled “The Last Foray in Lithuania,” is a romantic period story of Poland’s drive toward independence, with love interests and even some comedy thrown in.

Budget on pic, a co-production by Warsaw’s Heritage Films, Canal Plus Polska and France’s Les Films du Losange, was about $3.5 million.

Stateside debut this month has also been impressive, with Polish ex-pats packing limited screenings. Film played Nov. 11 — Poland’s Independence Day — at Manhattan’s 1,000-seat Ziegfield theater, which filled up despite tickets priced up to $50.

Wajda’s film looks set to top the success of another local hit, Jerzy Hoffman’s “With Fire and Sword,” which bowed early this year — proving that historical fare, complete with lavish costumes and romance, is a recipe for success with patriotic auds.

Hoffman’s work, adapted from Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel about the 1640s conflict between Poland and the Ukraine, is an extravagantly designed costumer with plenty of military action. Since its Feb. 12 opening, pic, which screened in 80 copies, has grossed $24.8 million, with almost 7.2 million tickets sold to date.In fact, the whole industry’s financial future suddenly looks rosy.

“The success was such that now we have banks queuing up to offer financing facilities,” helmer Hoffman told Daily Variety.

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