The football World Cup and early invasion of Hollywood tentpole films are putting pressure on local films across the Nordic region, except in Iceland where Life in a Fishbowl (pictured - Vonarstraeti) has become the best-selling film of 2014.

After six weeks on screens, the multiple layered drama directed by Baldvin Z was still third at the top ten last weekend, just under the US cop comedy22 Jump Street and the new opener from Dreamworks How to Train your Dragon 2. “Life in a Fishbowl is doing absolutely great", said Konstantin Mikaelsson, Head of Sena’s film division. “It‘s tracking similar to Baltasar Kormákur‘s The Deep from 2012 so we‘re looking at least at a top 5 ranking of all time box office for a local film.”

Commenting on the overall market, Mikaelsson added: “The theatrical market is quite good. We‘ve seen nearly a 10% increase in BO for the first 6 months compared to last year. The main reasons for that is great local product like Life in a Fishbowl as well The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which is kind of a half-Icelandic movie [it was partly shot in Iceland]. Such hits tend to drive up box office instead of hurting other films in the market”.

The next Icelandic film to open in August is the psychological thriller Graves & Bones by Anton Sigursson. 

Elsewhere in the Nordic region cinema attendance is down in Denmark and Finland but up in Norway and Sweden compared to the same period in 2013. 

In Denmark total admissions to date are estimated at 5.53 million according to the trade association FAFID, down nearly 15% from the same point in 2013. Local films are also experiencing a dip from last year’s 34% record high to 26%. For Steffen Andersen-Møller, Head of Audience and Promotion at the Danish Film Institute, among the factors contributing to the fall in admissions is the lack of major audience pullers from Denmark and Europe compared to the ‘exceptionally strong’ line up in 2013. “Alone in the first quarter of 2013 The Hunt, My African Adventure and All For Two sold around 1.4 million tickets, the same amount as all Danish films during the first half of 2014”, he notes.

Last weekend two Danish titles were in the top ten. The animation film Mini and the Mozzies was number eight in its second weekend, selling 8,232 tickets from 73 screens. The Cannes entry The Salvation just made it in the top ten, but figures remain at 8,285 admissions after five weeks despite positive reviews and a stellar cast. Nordisk Film - distributor of the two fore-mentioned titles- should come back to the top of the Danish charts this weekend with the car racing drama On the Edge (Lev Stærk) that opened yesterday on 100+ screens, backed by a strong marketing campaign.

Nordic movies lined up for the summer include the Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance by Hans Petter Moland’s (July 3, Miracle Distribution) and the local films In Real Life (Det andet liv) by Jonas Elmer (August 7, SF/Filmcompagniet) and Race Walking (Kapgang) by Niels Arden Oplev (August 28, Nordisk Film).

In Finland, general admissions are down 5% compared to last year and domestic films’ market share is down from 32% to 27%. The most successful Finnish film so far with 258,881 admissions is the franchise family film Ricky Rapper and Slick Leonard, still playing at number 10 for Walt Disney after 20 weeks. Timo Räisänen head of SF Film theatrical distribution told “So far the summer season has been challenging for the industry due to the World Cup in Brazil. Studios have been cautious of planning any wide releases around the sports event, hence the smaller number of releases. However the situation will normalize immediately afterwards,” he affirms.

Nordic titles lined up for the summer are The Salvation (July 25, Atlantic Film) and the Finnish feelgood movie Summertime (Kesäkaverit) by Inari Niemi (August 1st, Nordisk Film).

In Norway the month of June has also been slow, but general admissions at 4.9 million remain higher by 2.8% compared to 2013 and Norwegian films’ market share stands at 21.6%, almost twice the 2013 level (12%). “The year started off better than previous years, mostly because of strong Norwegian premieres,” stresses Stine Helgeland, Head of Promotion and International Relations at the Norwegian Film Institute.

Again Norwegian children and youth films are sure fire winners, such as Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, biggest hit of the year so far with 366,948 admissions for Nordisk Film. The comedy is still playing at number 16 at the local charts, after 15 weeks on general release. 

The next big summer Norwegian release is the car racing comedy Børning launched on August 13 by SF Norge.

In Sweden the pattern is similar to neighboring Norway, with a strong start of the year thanks to the Swedish hits The 100 Year old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared (1,562,128 admissions, Walt Disney), The Anderssons Hit the Road (535,851, Nordisk Film), both released late 2013, and the children’s animation Bamse and the City of Thieves, still playing at number 18 in Sweden (290,272 admissions for Nordisk Film). 

“During the first five months cinema admissions were 7.1 million,” says Johan Fröberg, Head of Statistics at the Swedish Film Institute. “This is up 11% compared to 2013 and the second highest level in the last seven years”.

Nordic films lined up for the summer include Home by Maximilian Hult (July 11, Movieboosters), A Thousand Times Good Night (July 25, TriArt) by Erik Poppe, Concerning Violence by Göran Hugo Olsson (August 15, Folkets Bio), Force Majeure by Ruben Östlund (August 15, TriArt) and Medicine by Colin Nutley (SF, August 29).