Magazine article Screen International

Welcome to the Future

Magazine article Screen International

Welcome to the Future

Article excerpt

Norway is the first country in the world to have digitised all of its film theatres. Jorn Rossing Jensen looks at the impact it is having on cinema-going in the territory

Norway has a unique exhibition sector. Just over 70% of its theatres are operated by the municipalities as public services, similar to libraries, and 100% are members of Norwegian cinema association, Film & Kino, which has just completed a national digital rollout -- the first of its kind in the world.

Almost a year ahead of schedule, all of the country's 410 screens have been digitally equipped. The $92m investment was covered by virtual print fee contracts with the local arms of the US studios, local distributors, Film & Kino and the exhibitors. Results may have started to show: Norwegian admissions in the first half of 2011 were up 4.2% on the same period in 2010.

"The digitisation has particularly benefited the small and mid-sized theatres, which have been able to offer more premieres, 3D screenings and an extended repertoire of films," suggests Birgitte Langballe, head of commu­nications at Film & Kino.

'The digitisation has particularly benefited the small and mid-sized theatres'Birgitte Langballe, Film & Kino

Earlier this year, Norway's largest media concern, Schibsted, phased out its interests in leading pan-Scandinavian distributor Sandrew Metronome.

As a result, the Norwegian operation has been taken over by the country's biggest exhibitor, Oslo Kino, and renamed Norsk Filmdistribusjon. The Swedish arm was dismantled, the Danish one will close shortly, while the Finland branch has been sold to local distributor Future Film.Norway top 10: Jan-June 2011RankTitleDistributorGrossAdmissions1Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (US)WDSMPI$8m482,9982Tangled (US)WDSMPI$4.5m271.9183The Hangover Part II (US)SF Norge$4.1m249,4494The King's Speech (UK)SF Norge$3.9m238,1585Fast & Furious 5 (US)UIP$3.7m221,1136Rio 3D (US)20th Century Fox$3.04m184,0907King Of Devil's Island (Nor)Euforia Film$3.03m183,9398Black Swan (US)20th Century Fox$2.9m173,8219Totally True Love (Nor)SF Norge$2.6m159,62110Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (US)UIP$2.4m145,443

Source: Film & Kino. Gross based on an average ticket price of $16.50Leading independent film buyersSF Norge

Norway's biggest distributor is owned by Sweden's Bonnier Media Group, which also controls Swedish major Svensk Filmindustri.

To bolster its output deals with 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and MGM/Spyglass, SF Norge also buys prestige independent titles such as The King's Speech. The company also releases in-house product and local pick-ups, including Totally True Love -- the second-biggest local film of the first half of 2011 -- and the upcoming Babycall. It also operates seven cinemas with a total of 46 screens.

Who to know: Guttorm Petterson, CEO; and Stockholm-based Robert Enmark, head of acquisitions.

The lowdown: "SF Norge covers most genres, from sci-fi to drama, from arthouse to comedy and action -- and traditionally we are family-friendly," says Petterson, whose most successful film of 2010 was Avatar, with Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 likely to finish top for SF Norge in 2011.

Contact: (47) 22 00 78 00Nordisk Film Distribusjon

A subsidiary of Danish major Nordisk Film.

Who to know: Morten Christoffersen, CEO; and Peter Philipsen, general manager, independent acquisition and distribution; and Nordic acquisitions manager Lone Korslund (both based in Copenhagen). …

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