Norwegian Exhibitors Block SVOD Premiere Of Chasing Berlusconi

Today the Norwegian comedy film Chasing Berlusconi (Jakten på Berlusconi) by Ole Endersen (King Curling) is having a wide national cinema release in more than 140 locations. The film’s producer Håkon Øverås at 4½ and distributor Euforia had originally signed with TV2 Sumo to do a SVOD premiere on the TV group’s online platform but all parties gave up due to pressure from local exhibitors who said they would boycott today’s cinema release.
Chasing Berlusconi

The action comedy set in the horse trot universe was to be available online to TV2 Sumo’s subscribers for only 48 hours last weekend. Producer Håkon Øverås said the initiative was meant as a promotional experiment to boost the cinema release. “The film is targeting the male 18-40 age group, the exact audience that watch TV2 Sumo, offering premier league sports to its subscribers. The film would have been previewed by around 5,000-7,000 viewers and it would have been a great way to get the word of mouth going”.

For Arild Kalkvik, representative of the Cinema Managers Association, the key question was for his members to keep the exclusivity of their window.

Reacting to the aborted deal to TV2’s online exclusive Trond Kvernstrøm, director of the channel said he would re-evaluate his ongoing support to Norwegian films. “Showing a film on TV two years after its cinema release doesn’t make sense anymore”, he noted.
For Stine Helgeland, Executive Director, Head of Promotions & International Relations at The Norwegian Film Institute, the controversy over Chasing Berlusconi indicates the changing market and the way the different players in the industry are positioning themselves for the future. “It is very sad when this harms creative ways of reaching an audience, which was the case with Chasing Berlusconi”, she said.

“The cinema will be the most important window for watching Norwegian feature films in the foreseeable future, but in a competitive and changing market, with falling revenues from DVD and television and big changes in audience behaviour, it is very important that Norwegian producers test alternative promotion and distribution strategies and learn from that experience. I can understand that theatres want to protect the exclusivity of the theatrical window, and for the time being producers and distributors are not really ready to challenge that exclusivity in fear of compromising their films. I do hope however that the parties will be able to see beyond their own short term interests and see that different films need different strategies. As it is now, I think the only one who can break the spell and do a real test is one of the two vertically integrated Nordic companies who control production, distribution, theatres, TV-channels and VOD platforms.”

She continues: “The financing and distribution of Norwegian films will be an important issue for the Government’s upcoming White Paper on film, which will be ready next spring. In Norway television has no substantial obligations or quotas to invest in Norwegian films, and neither do VOD-platforms. But in the end everyone wants quality local content to attract viewers and everyone should be prepared to pay some of the costs involved in creating that content. As long as the TV-channels and VOD platforms are not willing to pay for a more favourable position, the producers and distributors will not compromise the quite substantial revenues they can still get from the theatrical window. But if and when TV-channels, Internet and VOD platforms decide to contribute to the creation of Norwegian films in a substantial way it is only reasonable that they want a more favourable position in the exhibition chain.”


via the Nordisk Film and TV Fund

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.