UPDATE: The Square has passed 160,000 admissions in Sweden.
Ruben Ostlund’s The Square is flexing its box office muscles across Europe.
The Palme d’Or winner is likely to finish 2017 as the highest-grossing Scandinavian film of the year. The major territories left to launch are the UK (via Curzon Artificial Eye), Japan and Italy.
The film’s producer Erik Hemmendorff, who founded Plattform Produktion with Ostlund, says that in Sweden as of Nov 13, the film stands at just over 160,000 admissions, so they are confident they will clear 200,000 admissions to top Force Majeure.
“To now be in the exclusive club of directors that can repeat the success of more than one million tickets sold worldwide is incredible,” Hemmendorff told Screen.
“We do put a lot of work into the release of the film, and Coproduction Office have done a great job once again, which once again proves that long-term relationships where you build the film and the director together are important. We can also see a clear pattern that in the territories where the distributor really puts effort in the release it pays off. We try to do things around the premieres. In Sweden, we even did a road trip visiting cinemas outside the bigger cities, as a means to connect with the audience and the local press, and I think it paid off.”
With its US launch through Magnolia on October 27, The Square scored an opening weekend per-screen average of a whopping $19,000; its tally as of November 5 (from 20 sites) was $228,446 as and heading into its third weekend it will expand into 30 new sites in markets such as Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and Philadelphia on Friday (November 10).
This compares to Force Majeure’s total gross of $1.4m after its October 2014 release, also via Magnolia. Force Majeure recorded an opening weekend average of $11,655.
Philippe Bober’s Coproduction Office has sold The Square to 54 distributors to release in 66 countries. This compares to 45 distributors for Force Majeure.
Bober told Screen: “The magical mark of 1million tickets was reached with Force Majeure, and now we will definitely do much better with The Square. There are extremely few European directors who can break out of their home territory like this. This is putting Ruben in a very small club. We are very proud.”
Upon opening in the Netherlands on November 9 (BAC/Lumiere via Cinemien), the film ranked number one in per-screen average (45% more than Force Majeure on its opening day).
The Square also had the highest per-screen averages in the US and Germany (released by Alamode, with 2,857 Euros average across 104 sites) and the second-highest in France (released by BAC, at an average of 537 admissions across 184 sites) behind only local hit C’est La Vie! In France, The Square has now crossed the $2m mark for Bac.
The film is already the top Palme d’Or box-office performer of the past decade in Poland and Estonia.
Excluding local films, The Square is now the second-highest-grossing Palme d’Or winner in Hungary, after The Tree Of Life. In Switzerland, Slovenia and Norway, it is third behind Amour and The Tree Of Life. In Russia it is also third behind Blue Is The Warmest Colour and The Tree Of Life; in France third behind I, Daniel Blake and The Tree Of Life.
The numbers are especially impressive because the film has its theatrical challenges – including dialogue in Swedish and Danish and a running time of 142 minutes.
Bober said the film’s audience appeal went beyond the Palme d’Or. “The Palme d’Or does not hurt, that’s for sure – the Palme d’Or is great because it makes it obligatory for press to look at the film seriously, and exhibitors too. People in the industry generally say that the Palme does have a small influence all over the world and more so in France.”
He continued: “This is a film that does have ethical content, and at the same time is very entertaining. It can attract a broad audience but still remain faithful to the arthouse audience, that’s also what our distributors have told us. The arthouse audience is coming but on top of that we have a younger audience coming. There have been some screenings with an average age of 25 years. That audience is not interested in the Palme d’Or, they are interested in the provocative and entertaining value of the film.”
TriArt released on August 25 on 150 screens in Sweden and expects to hit around the same levels as Force Majeure’s success there. Scanbox opens in Denmark – the home country of the film’s leading man Claes Bang – on November 23.
The film leads the nominations for the European Film Awards with five nods: best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best comedy
The film is also Sweden’s candidate for the foreign-language Oscar race; a nomination or win could help the film’s performance in the US and internationally. It is also nominated for a BIFA for Best International Independent Film.