Patriotic Lithuanian pic breaks records

'Tadas Blinda' seen by 9% of population

A romantic costume drama about a 19th-century peasant rebellion has become the first Lithuanian film to take more than €1 million ($1.3 million) at the local box office.

“Tadas Blinda” — a glossy, colorful romp that tells the true story of the Baltic country’s own Robin Hood character, Tadas Blinda, who led a revolt against a brutal Russian army in the 1860s — has been seen by 9% of the country’s 3.5 million citizens.

The $1.35 million-budget film is a first for director Donatas Ulvydas, producer Zilvinas Naujokas and its star Mantas Jankavicius, who is a famous local singer.

Released late September on 13 screens, the film has been seen by nearly 282,000 people — 15% more than previous record holder, “Titanic,” although its box office is 10% lower than “Avatar,” which as a 3D movie sold tickets at a premium.

Naujokas’ Acme Film is the second biggest distributor in the Baltics, working with Sony, Warner and most independents, including Summit and Lionsgate.

In the past two weeks, he has been in Chicago and Los Angeles promoting international sales of the film, targeting Lithuanian emigres in North America and South America.

“We’re doing premieres for the Lithuanian communities worldwide,” Naujokas told Variety. “There have been screenings in London, Los Angeles and Chicago already, and there are plans for New York, Washington, Dublin, Cork, Edinburgh, Birmingham and other European cities too.”

Naujokas is also in talks with Canadian distributors and Australian Lithuanian communities, and plans to see the Lithuanian ambassador to Argentina in Buenos Aires on Friday.

“These screenings are strongly targeted at Lithuanian immigrants, but hopefully some territories will buy the movie, at least for TV and DVD,” he added.

Sales of the international version of the movie, “Fireheart: The Legend of Tadas Blinda,” are being handled by Planeta Inform and offers were “on the table” following AFM last month, Naujokas said.

A Russian-dubbed version is being prepped as two actors, mother and daughter Tatyana Lyutaeva and Agniya Ditkovskite, are well known in Russia. Donatas Banionis, who played Kris Kelvin in Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s cult 1972 sci-fi film “Solaris,” also appears in the film.

The film goes to DVD in Lithuania in late January.