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Guttorm Petterson • CEO SF Norge

Raising SF Norge’s market share

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Guttorm Petterson • CEO SF Norge

SF Norge, the Norwegian branch of the Scandinavian film group Svensk Filmindustri, is upping its local production activities and hopes to increase its theatrical market share from 10% to around 13% (not counting 20th Century Fox titles released though SF Norge) thanks to strong local releases in 2007, such as the animated film Elias and the Royal Yacht, Petter Næss’s Gone with the Woman [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Varg Veum, opening on September 28. SF Norge CEO Guttorm Petterson spoke to Cineuropa about the company’s production and distribution strategies.

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Cineuropa: What is SF Norge’s production strategy?
Guttorm Petterson: The idea is to have at least one to two films each year as a main producer and one or two as co-producer with other Scandinavian companies, SF branches or other co-production partners. Our aim is to produce films for a broad audience, whatever the genre, be they comedies, family films or thrillers, low budget or up to €10m.

We have different deals in place with local production companies. We own 26% of Monster Film (Gone with the Woman) and have a first look deal with Cinenord. Our deal with them was on three films and they have delivered two films so far (Trigger [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Mars & Venus). We have a similar deal with Zwart Arbeit (Playing Wide [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
). With Filmkameratene, we have a gentleman’s agreement and work on a project-to-project basis. We are also on the verge of signing a deal with Fante Film (Cold Prey [+see also:
trailer
interview: Roar Uthaug
film profile
]
).

The first feature film about Varg Veum, the hard-boiled private eye created by Norwegian best-selling author Gunnar Staalesen, is hitting screens on September 28. Tell us about the project, one of the most expensive ever made in Norway.
The Varg Veum crime series consists of six feature films: two for theatrical release and four for DVD and television. We are currently shooting the fourth while the third film is in post-production. The total production budget is around €10.2m. The series is produced with Miso Film in Denmark, with a substantial financial contribution from ARD/Degeto in Germany as well as the major broadcasters in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.

Staalesen’s novels are very popular all over Europe, including Germany and France. International sales on the project, which are being handled by SF International, started in Toronto and will continue at Mipcom in October, but around 10 territories have already acquired Varg Veum as part of the financing packaging.

On the distribution side, what is your market share and strategy?
As SF Norge alone, we have 10% of the market share so far and 20th Century Fox (whose products have been distributed by SF Norge since 2000) has a 15% market share, so in total we control around 25% of the theatrical market. On the DVD side, we have a 30% market share.

With this year’s release of Mars & Venus, Elias and the Royal Yacht and Gone with the Woman, we hope to raise SF Norge’s market share from 10 to 13%. We usually have around 30 releases each year, including four local films. The rest is mostly US pick-ups, but we sometimes acquire French, Spanish, Danish or Swedish films.

Do you believe in Pan-Nordic distribution?
As a pan-Nordic company, SF has appointed one person (Eva Svendenius in Sweden) who is responsible for working very closely with all SF offices on one or two films each year, and puts together pan-Nordic releases. Arn is the first film that will have a simultaneous release in Sweden and Norway in December. Finland and Denmark will go out later, probably in February or March.

With the animated film Elias and the Royal Yacht, in the other Nordic countries SF will probably use the same strategy it did in Norway, which was to make sure the characters are well-known first on television before launching the theatrical release. Then all feature films will have their own dubbed version in Swedish, Danish and Finnish.

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