The High Sun and Next to Me top the charts
by Vladan Petkovic
- Dalibor Matanić's The High Sun scores the third-best local opening ever in Croatia, while Stevan Filipović's Next to Me opens at the top of the Serbian BO chart
Last weekend saw two new local films released in Croatia and Serbia on 24 September hit the top of their respective weekend box-office charts.
In Croatia, Dalibor Matanić's The High Sun [+see also:
interview: Dalibor Matanic
interview: Tihana Lazovic
film profile] scored the third-best local opening since the country's independence in 1991. Released by 2I Film across 23 screens, it sold 12,019 tickets, grossing €43,080, thus beating The Intern and Sicario on their first weekends, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Everest [+see also:
film profile] on their second.
This result places it behind only two releases, both from 2013, the most successful box-office year for local cinema, with 11% of total admissions going to Croatian films. These were Vinko Brešan's comedy The Priest's Children [+see also:
interview: Vinko Bresan
film profile], with 33,759 admissions and gross BO takings of €144,737, and children's film The Brave Adventures of a Little Shoemaker [+see also:
film profile] by Silvije Petranović, with 21,693 tickets and €80,264.
In November 2014, Daniel Kušan's Love or Death [+see also:
film profile] sold 12,705 tickets on its opening weekend and earned €32,386. The difference in the admission price is due to the fact that it is also a children's film, the third instalment in the franchise based on a popular series of books about the boy Koko. This means a lower price for daytime screenings and discounts for organised cinema-going for schools.
The rest of the top-ten domestic openers chart is also populated by family fare and comedies, including Mysterious Boy, the second part of the Koko series, and Brešan's 1999 hit Marshal Tito's Spirit.
The High Sun benefited from an intense promotional campaign that included a tour, with the cast and talent attending the premieres across the territory. It was also aided by a strong buzz and critical approval following its Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and its seven Golden Arena Awards at the national Pula Film Festival, including Best Film and Best Director.
Still, the triptych about the problems of mixed relationships between Croatian and Serbian men and women in Croatia in 1991, 2001 and 2011, directed with an unmistakable arthouse flair and giving out a clear message about the graveness of the subject matter, can hardly be considered an audience magnet.
In Serbia, the winner of the Pula Film Festival's international competition, Next to Me [+see also:
interview: Stevan Filipović
film profile] by Stevan Filipović, opened on 24 September at the top of the box-office chart with 11,757 admissions and €37,262. Distributor Taramount released it across 22 screens, and it beat the same Hollywood titles as The High Sun did in Croatia.
Filipović and the team also attended premieres in the three largest cities, and will continue supporting screenings in Belgrade this week.
While the box-office result is not a record, it is important, as it demonstrates that with some advertising investment and dedication from both the distributor and the crew, a local, socially engaged drama with explicitly stated left-wing political ideas – in addition aimed at difficult teen and young-adult audiences – can command such figures in Serbia.