Last year, Danish films sold 4.1 million tickets in local theatres, to secure a Danish market share of 29.6%; during the first seven months of 2014, they accounted for 21.1% of total admissions. In July, they reached an all-time low of 5%.
“We can no longer hide the fact that Danish cinema domestically has entered a trough the size of the Grand Canyon,” said the head of trade association Danish Cinemas, Kim Pedersen. “The situation has been disastrous during the last five months; historically, this is an audience crisis we have never seen before.”
During the first six months of this year, only four out of 12 local releases performed “really well” or “acceptably”, according to Pedersen: Mikkel Serup’s The Reunion 2: The Funeral [+], which took 604,364 tickets; Giacomo Campeotto’s Father of Four [+], with 286,444; Pernille Fischer Christensen’s Someone You Love [+], with 166,924; andCharlotte Sachs Bostrup’s The Cartel, with 127,166.
“Five of the flops were by first-time directors – it was stupid to launch that many feature debuts at the same time, considering there are not many during the rest of the year and at the beginning of 2015. Simon Staho’s The Miracle is beyond assessment – audiences flee when they see his name. Only 742 people saw it. On the other hand, the four films that reached their audiences had either been supported by the Danish Film Institute for their potential market value or had been included for release in Cinema Club Denmark.
“One of the problems is the marketing. Both Kristian Levring’s The Salvation [+] andJonas Alexander Arnby’s When Animals Dream [+] were launched as Cannes films because they were selected for the festival – as a result, people thought they were art films, but they are in fact good, easily accessible genre films, which might have had much more viewers had they not been labelled ‘Cannes’. We need to create more awareness of Danish films before they open in the cinemas.
“One of the methods could be an interactive website on new Danish films, with trailers and location reports; we should look at the US, where awareness is a keyword for the distributors – not only before the premieres, but also up to the VoD launch. We know from experience that the more people watch a film in the cinemas, the more will see it on other platforms. Unless we do something, the current trend will continue and damage all releases ‘that don’t sell themselves’.”
However, Pedersen characterised the upcoming cinema season as “promising” – three films will be launched in Cinema Club Denmark. The first is Niels Arden Oplev’s Speed Walking, which 156,764 Danes have seen over 18 days; later will be Bille August’s Silent Heart [+], which should be good for 250,000 admissions; and then, Mikkel Nørgaard’s The Absent One [+] should follow in the footsteps of the first film in the Jussi Adler Olsen franchise (The Keeper of Lost Causes [+]) and take at least 700,000.