Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom might not have received his Oscar yet, despite two consecutive best picture nominations, but in his home territory he has once again confirmed his box office appeal and status as more than just 'flavour of the month' with the release of Chocolat.

Hallstrom, who is based in Los Angeles with his Swedish wife, Chocolat actress Lena Olin, is regarded throughout Scandinavia as the region's foremost director; particularly after several international failures from Dane Bille August (The House Of The Spirits, Smilla's Sense Of Snow) and Fin Renny Harlin (Cutthroat Island, The Long Kiss Goodnight).

In typical Hallstrom tradition, distributor Scanbox/UIP gave Chocolat a cautious release on just 34 screens nationwide. but after the weekend the feature, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, climbed to second place at the Swedish box office behind What Women Want. Last year's Oscar contender, The Cider House Rules, was also initially released on a limited 23 prints, but the film remained in the top 20 for 28 weeks. Chocolat is expected to show similar legs and could beat Hallstrom's biggest success to date, 1994's What's Eating Gilbert Grape'

Hallstrom's Top Five Films in Sweden

Title. (Released). Distributor. Total gross
What's Eating Gilbert Grape' (1994) UIP $2,057,825
The Cider House Rules (2000) Scanbox/UIP $1,676,880
My Life As A Dog (1985) SF $1,381,586
Chocolat (2001) Scanbox/UIP $1,018,587*
Once Around (1991) UIP $483,366 (estimated on ticket price $6,36)

($=SKR 10,22) *still on release
Figures unavailable for Something To Talk About (1996)