Norway’s Richard the Stork is flying high worldwide
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- German director Toby Genkel's computer-animated family adventure is well on its way to becoming the biggest Norwegian film success of all time
Before screening in competition at the Shanghai International Film Festival (17-26 June) ahead of its Chinese release, German director Toby Genkel's Richard the Stork [+see also:
film profile] has been successfully launched in several territories and is likely to become the biggest Norwegian film success of all time.
It took Norwegian-German producer Kristine Knudsen eight years to bring the CGI family adventure to fruition, starting from the moment she met German scriptwriter (and co-director) Reza Memari. "He told me about his story; he already knew all the details, but he never thought it would become a film. No producers wanted original material for animated productions, and in Germany, family entertainment is a risky business. However, we decided to give it a try," Knudsen recalled.
Richard is an orphaned sparrow who grows up in a family of storks, and he thinks he is one of them. However, they must leave him behind when they fly south in the autumn, as he will not be able to cope with the long voyage, but he wants to convince them that he is a stork, just a little different, and sets off self-confidently on the winter trip to Africa "in a literal rite of passage that simultaneously serves as an empathetic tale about otherness and self-discovery”.
"Who would have thought it would sell more than 500,000 tickets in Russia, more than 430,000 in Mexico, almost 200,000 in Peru or 100,000 in Colombia?" said Knudsen, who is currently planning the sequel, as she spoke to Norway's Bergens Tidende. "We are neither a well-known brand nor do we have a major marketing machine behind us, but apparently we have an original, independent story with universal appeal – an underdog that knows how to fly high."
Released on 5 May by Euforia Film, Richard the Stork has taken 80,000 admissions domestically; it was selected for the children's Generation Kplus section at the Berlin International Film Festival, is currently on show at France's Annecy International Animation Film Festival and has been available on Google Play since 1 June. Munich-based Global Screen has sold the film worldwide, and major upcoming openings include the UK (21 July), France (18 October), the USA (30 June) and China.
Until now, Norway's biggest film success had been Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Esben Sandberg's Golden Globe- and Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film profile] (2012), which, according to the USA’s Box Office Mojo, grossed €20.5 million worldwide (6.6% of which from local theatres). Knudsen's €9.5 million family feature will shortly exceed the record set by that movie, which was distributed by Nordisk Film.
Knudsen produced Richard the Stork for her own Bergen-based Den Siste Skilling Productions and her Knudsen & Streuber Productions in Berlin. She added Ulysses Filmproduktion (Germany), Walking the Dog (Belgium) and Mélusine Productions (Luxembourg) as co-producers, and used animation studios in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Norway.
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