Israel box office posts record

Last summer surpassed by half a million dollars

TEL AVIV — Four films have sold more than 300,000 tickets this summer at the Israeli box office, a record that surpasses last summer’s take by half a million dollars.

The number one box office film in Israel this summer was “Shrek The Third.” “Ratatouille,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” and Israeli helmer Joseph Cedar’s “Beaufort” fill out the remaining spots.

Cedar’s pic, about the Israeli army’s withdrawal from the south of Lebanon in 2000 following an 18-year long occupation, marks the second time in as many years that an Israeli pic has appeared near the top of the box office. Last year, Shemi Zarhin’s “Aviva, My Love” came second only to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Exact box office numbers are hard to come by in Israel as distributors rarely publish weekly figures.

“The fact that Israeli distribs withhold box office data from the public is symptomatic,” says film critic Yair Raveh, who writes for entertainment magazine Pnai Plus and film blog Cinemascope.co.il. “The general state of things in Israel, in terms of distribution and exhibition, is horrible. It all boils down to the fact that the four major distributors are also those who own and operate all exhibition chains here, and mostly show their own titles on their own screens. There’s never real competition.”