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Hockey Biodoc ‘Finnish Flash’ Scores Big in Finland

Teemu Selanne feature draws families and fans of the national hero and NHL star

Possibly the best-known export Finland has produced outside of Nokia, hockey player Teemu Selanne is scoring at the local box office in documentary “The Finnish Flash — the Teemu Selanne Story.”

The doc about the star of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, with a budget of just under $600,000, has cumed $1 million so far from 88,000 admissions since its Sept. 27 release.

Produced by Yellow Film & TV, the docu was marketed and released like a local blockbuster by indie distributor SF Film, which rolled it out on 92 prints. “Finnish Flash” scored the biggest opening week for a documentary in the territory, with $318,000. Bolstered by upbeat reviews and strong word-of-mouth, “Finnish Flash” has surpassed the country’s highest-grossing docu of all time, the nature-themed “Tale of a Forest,” which chopped down $813,324 for SF Film.

It’s no wonder the docu struck a chord with Finnish auds: Selanne, a local superstar with matinee idol looks, is the country’s most popular hockey player — and, at 43, the oldest player still active in
the National Hockey League. He set the NHL rookie record for goals in the 1992-93 season, scoring 76 with the Winnipeg Jets.

The documentary’s success illustrates the appetite of Finnish audiences for mainstream docs that can appeal to families and provide an alternative to animated movies, says Yellow Film & TV’s Jarkko Hentula, who exec produced the pic, with Olli Haikka.

According to Hentula, “Finnish Flash” is on track to become 2013’s third-biggest local release behind “21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage” ($6.7 million) and Nordisk’s kid toon “Rolli and the Golden Key” ($3 million).

Simply put, Finnish auds are responding to docs, Hentula says. “Six of the 10 top-grossing documentaries have been released within the past three years,” he adds.

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