The polarisation of Danish films: huge budgets or extremely low costs

The Salvation

Article sourced from Cineuropa:

Chairman of trade association Danish Cinemas Kim Pedersen says, “I am convinced we will find the future of Danish film among the expensive productions”

Kristian Levring’s The Salvation was the most expensive Danish feature made between 2010 and 2014

Between 2010 and 2014, 97 Danish features were produced on a total budget of €241 billion, supported by the Danish Film Institute. Domestically, they sold approximately 17 million cinema tickets.

The difference between the production costs was enormous: Claus Bjerre’s Threesome(2014) was the cheapest, at €0.4 million, while Kristian Levring’s The Salvationwas the most expensive, at €10.2 million.

During the period, half of the ten most costly films were shot with English dialogue; their average budget was €5.9 million, and they took an average of 332,085 admissions. The general average was €2.6 million and 174,915 admissions.

According to an analysis by Kim Pedersen, chairman of trade association Danish Cinemas, in Danish film magazine Ekko, the ten highest-budget films received 4.3 stars from the critics from selected media, while the average for all films was 3.5 stars. “Audiences got something for the money,” he concluded.

At the other end of the scale, the cheapest film – €5.1 million less than the average cost of the high-end productions – only reached an 18,156-strong domestic attendance. “There seems to be a clear correlation between the size of the budget and the audience backing,” he added.

So far, 2015’s films have had exorbitant budgets compared to the average over the last five years. These include Ole Christian Madsen’s Itsi Bitsi[+] (€3.9 million), Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance(€4.8 million), Kenneth Kainz’s The Shamer’s Daughter (€6.7 million) and Anders Thomas Jensen’s Men and Chicken (€4.8 million).

This trend seems to continue when we look at other titles such as Thomas Vinterberg‘s The Commune (€4.5 million), Per Fly’s Backstabbing for Beginners (€7.2 million), Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon (€6 million), Henrik Ruben Genz’s Tordenskjold (€4.8 million), Martin P Zandvliet’s Land of Mine (€4.3 million), Hans Petter Moland’s A Conspiracy of Faith (€5 million), Tobias Lindholm‘s A War (€3.5 million), Kasper Barfoed’s Summer of ’92 (€3.6 million) and Mikkel Nørgaard‘s Clown Forever (€3.7 million).

“So we are heading towards the polarisation of Danish films: either they will be exorbitantly expensive or dirt cheap. I am convinced we will find the future of Danish film among the expensive productions. Here, the filmmakers have both the will and the means to impress their audiences, and exploit the media to breaking point,” Pedersen continued.

“For the low-budget films, only a few get a theatrical release – not because the theatres will not show them, but because the producers see no financial business in traditional cinema distribution. So we are on the way to an upper and lower class of Danish film.”


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.