STOCKHOLM — In Swedish pic “Together,” one character asserts it’s better to eat “porridge together than pork cutlet alone.”
It’s a sentiment audiences have apparently been gobbling up, as director Lucas Moodysson’s comedy, set in a 1970s commune, has been a hit on home turf and a solid earner on the road in the U.K., Germany and Switzerland.
The follow-up to the helmer’s “Fucking Amal” (aka “Show Me Love”), the film is drawing decent crowds at U.S. arthouses, distributed by IFC/Film Tonic.
” ‘Together’ was the first film I acquired for the company,” says IFC senior VP of marketing and distribution Bob Berney. “I saw it at a private screening in Toronto, and I just responded to it emotionally. … We organized a lot of advance screenings, but the film has essentially been review-driven, and with the word of mouth, it’s gotten so we’re now past $500,000.” Berney predicts the film will take $2 million Stateside.
After being launched at the Venice fest last year, “Together,” a story about a nondescript housewife who gets fed up with her husband and moves with her two kids into a chaotic commune with her brother, was sold to 40 territories by Denmark’s Trust Film Sales — including a lot of distribs tat had handled “Amal.”
In contrast with the heavily hyped launch of “Amal” in Sweden, local distrib Sonet Film and Memfis Film producer Lars Jonsson devised what they describe as “an anti-publicity campaign” for “Together.”
“There were no press releases, no location reports, no pictures, no interviews — nothing at all — until two weeks before the opening, when we launched an extensive (and rather expensive) marketing campaign,” Jonsson says. “We were going for the generation which grew up in the 1970s, and their children who had heard about (the era) and now had an opportunity to see for themselves.”
The ploy worked, as “Together” sold more than 880,000 tickets, beating 1998’s “Amal,” which clocked 870,000.
Memfis Film is a co-producer on all of Danish director Lars von Trier’s projects. In turn, von Trier’s Zentropa Entertainments backs Moodysson’s movies, which are sold by Zentropa’s international distribution outfit, Trust Film Sales.
“Together” unspooled in Venice in the Cinema of the Present section to a rapturous reception from auds and critics. “When we left the screening in Venice where we saw happy audiences hugging each other, we got the impression it would travel all right,” says Jonsson.
U.K. rights were snapped up by Metrodome, which had handled such specialized fare as “Pusher,” “Bleeder” and “101 Reykjavik.”
Capitalizing on the line about porridge, the distrib sent journalists plastic pork cutlets with screening invitations. And at the London preview, an unlikely combination of porridge and smorgasbord was served.
” ‘Scandinavia has become rather cool in the U.K., not only in films, but in design and lifestyle, so there was a given interest,” says Metrodome publicity head Sean Tuomey. “We introduced Moodysson wherever we could. Many papers had missed him on the first call, so now they wanted interviews. ‘Together’ became the lead film in a lot of national press, and by chance, it was then the only alternative to U.S. mainstream.”
Swedish critics credit Moodysson with helping to restore confidence in the national film industry, sparking a resurgence that’s seen homegrown films command a 30% share of the local B.O.
And now foreign auds, too, seem to like the taste of the director’s hominy homilies.