While Scandinavian film-makers Lars von Trier and Liv Ullmann received plenty of positive international attention at this year's Cannes Film Festival, both directors have been hit hard by the local, and often much younger, competition at the box office in their respective home territories.
The Swedish production Faithless from Norwegian Liv Ullmann, opened simultaneously in Sweden and Norway on Sept 14 but did not make it into the top five in either country. In Norway, Faithless entered the chart at eighth place with a weekly gross of $53,455 from 13 prints. Meanwhile, Sandrew Metronome's home-grown Norwegian box office hit Detector from young director Paal Jackman broke into the highly exclusive $1m club - a rarity for domestic productions.
A condemning comment by the managing director of Norway's major exhibitor, Ingeborg Moraeus Hansen, a few weeks ago did not make things easier for Ullmann's feature at home. Faithless was also beaten by ECT's release of the Norwegian film Odd Little Man. Although a critical failure it grossed a satisfactory $86,693 in its fourth week and has pulled in a total gross of $0.331m.
Detector has also become the first local feature film which actually managed to recoup its budget ($0.9m) from domestic box office takings since 1995 when Dis was released. Despite being critically mauled, Dis - the ultra-low budget digital video with a budget $10,000, attracted enough box office revenue to cover its production costs.
In Sweden, Faithless released on only 22 prints by distributor SF, grossed $104,615 in its first seven days and had to settle for sixth place in the box office chart. In comparison, the Swedish film Together from director Lukas Moodysson (Fucking Amal) is about to become one of the highest grossing films this year with a running gross of $3,459,987 after four weeks.
Unlike von Trier's Dancer In The Dark, the critics did not treat Ullmann's directorial effort badly in either Norway or Sweden. Unfortunately, most reviews were merely paying dutiful tribute to Ullmann's and scriptwriter Ingmar Bergman's previous achievements and positions in the film trade rather than focusing on the feature.
The Scandinavian (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland) gross of Dancer In The Dark after two weeks amounts to $1m, but it is doubtful that the Bjork musical will reach $3m across the region. In Denmark, Angel's release of Dancer grossed $156,319 in its second week and has taken a total of $519,240. But it will be a closely fought race to beat local competitor Release All The Horses (Slip Hestene Loes). Distributed by SMD, the low-budget comedy still pulls in $70,000 a week after six weeks on release and has taken $752,168 to date.