Nordic Region

Blockbusters rule, but Scandi fare holds own

STOCKHOLM — Despite a year dominated by U.S. blockbusters, such as “Mamma Mia! The Movie,” Nordic indies aren’t in a bad mood.

“We had ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Burn After Reading.’ 2008 has been a good year,” says Svensk Film’s acquisitions head Robert Ehnmark.

Overall, there’s a sense that the U.S. majors are getting a larger and larger share of the audience, but local pics are holding their own. “In Scandinavia, local product has a market share between 20%-30%,” Nordisk’s Peter Philipson says. “There’s also a place for upmarket art films, but they have to be very good, with strong stories and a good cast. The middle-of-the-road films are the ones in trouble, both in the cinemas and on DVD as well.”

Middling U.S. action films are thought to be especially problematic in the Nordic market. “They are too expensive, due to the production costs,” Svensk’s Ehnmark says. “It’s not worth it for us, and the consumers get these kind of stories on TV anyway, with series like ‘CSI.’ ”

Indie imports often have a shorter lifespan in theaters, so distribs feel it’s essential to find product that delivers immediately. Noble Entertainment’s Anna Lindstrom points to French pic “Them” and Korea’s “Oldboy” as two imports that worked.

Nordic indies also are grappling with piracy. Says Lindstrom, “We opened ‘Rambo’ six weeks after the U.S.; that meant the film had been available through illegal downloading for five weeks. It hurt us.”

Ehnmark adds: “So far, digital distribution means nothing commercially, but we still try to get those rights. Problem is that there are constantly new formats for digital distribution.”

2008 B.O.

ICELAND: $13 million (to Oct. 3)


DENMARK: $140 million (to Oct. 19)

FINLAND: $55 million (to Sept. 29)

NORWAY: $129 million (to Oct 7)

Top title

ICELAND: “Mamma Mia! The Movie” ($1.2 million)

SWEDEN: “Mamma Mia! The Movie” ($18.7 million)

DENMARK: “Flame & Citron” ($8.8 million)

FINLAND: “Sex and the City” ($4.3 million)

NORWAY: “Mamma Mia! The Movie” ($15.6 million)

Recent pickups

“Easy Virtue” (Svensk)

“Fame” (Sandrew Metronome)

“JCVD” (Atlantic Film)

“Thirst” (NonStop Entertainment)

“Twilight” (Nordisk)