Two major wrangles defined the year for the Swedish filmindustry: the renewal of the Swedish film agreement, and the proposed sale ofSandrew Metronome's exhibition business to rival chain SF Bio.

The renewal of the Swedish film agreement, which is designedto generate money for local production, has been delayed until 2005. The causeof the conflict is a disagreement between US distributors and Swedishexhibitors.

The heavily criticised SF-Sandrew deal, which would see SFBio control more than 75% of the Swedish exhibition sector, was stopped by thestate-run Swedish Competition Authority just before Christmas, on the groundsthat it would give SF a monopoly on the market. Next year will show if anotherbidder - such as the independent Triangelfilm - will have theeconomic means to buy the chain.

Overheard this year

'In general, monopolies are never good. It isn'tgood for the consumer and it isn't good for the multiplicity ofchoice.' Marita Ulvskog, Sweden's then minister of culture,comments on Sweden's second-biggest exhibitor Sandrew Metronome'ssale of its cinema chain to major SF Bio.

'I have cooked a beautiful meal for you, but Iwon't chew it for you.'Lukas Moodysson refuses to explain his new film A Hole In MyHeart.

The year ahead

'There are a few strong Swedish candidates forinternational film festivals in 2005, including Colin Nutley's TheQueen Of Sheba's Pearls and MariaBlom's Masjavlar. But themajor cloud on the horizon is money. The Swedish film industry suffers from alack of resources. It is perfectly OK to make low-budget productions, but notall films can be low budget. It's about time the film medium is raised toget the same status as other art forms - and we still have a long way togo there. The negotiations on the new film agreement will be extremelyimportant.' Ase Kleveland, managing director, Swedish Film Institute.

'I am worried about the development of piracy, as itinfluences the market for cinema admissions. When it comes to the uncertaintyregarding our purchase of Sandrew Metronome's cinema chain, wedon't let it worry us. We aren't dependent on that. But it would bebad for the Swedish cinema sector if the deal is not approved. This market istoo small for two big exhibitors.' Jan Bernhardsson, managing director,SF Bio.

Box office snapshot

Highest-grossing film: The Lord of the Rings: The Returnof the King (Svensk Filmindustri AB) $12.8m

Highest-grossing local film: As It Is In Heaven (Sonet Film) $8.2m

Highest-grossing arthouse film: The Ketchup Effect (Sandrew Metronome) $3.5m