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Local heroes - the hitmakers in key territories

Screen looks at local film-makers helping drive the box office in key international territories.

GERMANY

German cinema-owners look forward to packed screens when a new film from comedy director Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig is on the release schedule. Constantin Film is opening his next film, Wickie The Mighty Viking, in September. Promotion has already begun, with the teaser trailer screening in 3,000 cinemas from this weekend, Herbig is also a box-office draw in front of the camera as demonstrated by the success of Joseph Vilsmaier’s comedy Die Geschichte Vom Brandner Kaspar last year.

 

HERBIG’S RECENT HITS
As a director
Lissi Und Der Wilde Kaiser, 2007: local gross $18.4m (EUR13.6m)
(T)Raumschiff Surprise - Periode 1, 2003: $69.3m (EUR51.2m)
As an actor
Die Geschichte Vom Brandner Kasparm, 2008: $8.1m (EUR6m)
Hui Buh - Das Schlossgespenst, 2006: $13.9m (EUR10.3m)

 

CANADA

Paul Gross’ films stand out if only because they are successful at home and do not travel well, perhaps because of their parochial bent. His 2002 curling comedy Men With Brooms (which he co-wrote and starred in) earned $3.2m (c$3.9m). Last year’s Passchendaele, a First World War drama about Canadians at the front (which he also wrote and starred in), earned $3.6m (c$4.4m), making it the highest-grossing film of the year.

In French-speaking Quebec, several film-makers are guaranteed grossers, including writer-directors Denys Arcand and Patrick Huard.

 

ITALY

Ever since Roberto Benigni’s directorial debut Life Is Beautiful stormed the Italian box office in 1997, Italy’s beloved funnyman has proved to be a reliable hitmaker and virtually critic-proof. Benigni likes to release films on or around his birth date of October 14 - and a good time of year to release films in Italy since they can enjoy a long run-up to the busy Christmas season. Benigni is about to embark on a world tour of his one-man show TuttoDante (Everything About Dante) which was broadcast to huge ratings on Rai. It is not certain when he will get back to film-making.

 

BENIGNI’S RECENT HITS
Tigre And The Snow, 2006: $20.2 (EUR14.9m)
Pinocchio, 2002: $35.5m (EUR26.2m)
Life Is Beautiful, 1997: $42.4m (EUR31.3m)

 

IRELAND

Local box office share in Ireland has dropped significantly over the last few years, falling to just $1.9m (EUR1.4m) in 2008, less than 1% of the gross box office for the year. The fall-off has happened over a period when Ireland’s two internationally prominent film-makers, Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan, have made fewer films in their homeland. Their most recent projects made in the US, respectively Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ ($677,000/EUR500,000) and The Brave One ($465,000/EUR343,227), did not perform as well in Ireland as Sheridan’s locally flavoured In America ($2.6m/EUR1.9m) and Jordan’s Breakfast On Pluto ($1.3m/EUR981,256). Jordan will be hoping his latest project, Ondine, with Colin Farrell, will benefit from the Irish star’s drawing power, proven at the local box office with Intermission ($3.4m/EUR2.5m) and In Bruges ($4.3m/EUR3.2m).

 

BRAZIL

Daniel Filho is the Brazilian film-maker who has generated the most local hits in recent years. His romantic comedy If I Were You 2 is still in theatres after 11 weeks on release and is the highest-grossing local film since the Retomada (resurrection) of Brazilian cinema in the 1990s. A TV veteran, Filho usually casts local well-known small-screen stars.

 

FILHO’S RECENT HITS
If I Were You 2, 2009: $21.5m (real$48.1m)
Primo Basilio, 2007: $2.8m (real$6.3m)
If I Were You, 2006 $12.9m (real$28.9m)

 

FRANCE

France is a cinephile country and when a French movie is a big hit it drives up the overall box office, regardless of director or star. Last year, boosted by Dany Boon’s comedy Welcome To The Sticks, French films snagged a 45.7% market share. In 2006 the big film was Patrice Leconte’s Les Bronzes and French titles accounted for 44.6% of the year’s box office.

 

UK

He may have only directed one film to date, Love, Actually, but comedy writer-director Richard Curtis is a one-man brand in the UK. All his films - Four Weddings And A Funeral, the Mr Beans, Notting Hill, the two Bridget Jones films - are among the highest-grossing UK films of all time. Next up is his second directorial outing, The Boat That Rocked, which opens on April 3.

 

CURTIS’ RECENT HITS
Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, 2004 (scr): $66.4m (£35.7m)
Love, Actually, 2003: $63.7m (£37.4m)
Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001 (scr): $59.4m (£41.3m)

 

JAPAN

In the three years Hayao Miyazaki’s films have been released this decade (2001 for Spirited Away, end of 2004 for Howl’s Moving Castle and 2008 for Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea) it has been a bonanza for distributor/exhibitor Toho, broadcast partner NTV, and all of the merchandising tie-in partners and of course Studio Ghibli itself. Those three films were the top overall earners those years and pulled in approximately 15%, 10% and 8% of the total annual box office respectively. A constant question that hangs over the industry is, ‘What will we do when Miyazaki retires from film-making”

 

MIYAZAKI’S RECENT HITS
Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea, 2008: $164m
Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004: $190m
Spirited Away, 2001: $229m

 

- Written by Martin Blaney, Jason Gray, Elaine Guerini, Sheri Jennings, Denis Seguin, Ted Sheehy, Nancy Tartaglione and Louise Tutt.

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