Local films back on top in Serbia
by Vladan Petkovic
- After the crime-action-comedy South Wind and the WW1 epic King Peter the First sold a combined 800,000 admissions, Taxi Blues has totted up 100,000 after two weeks
Serbian filmmaker Miroslav Stamatov's newest comedy, Taxi Blues, featuring Andrija Milošević, a TV star who also played in Danilo Bećković's hits Little Buddho and The Samurai in Autumn [+see also:
film profile], as well as an assortment of popular actors including Milena Predić, Nikola Djuričko and Sergej Trifunović, has sold 113,021 admissions in Serbian cinemas after two weeks on release, grossing €359,722. The film is sitting comfortably in the top position of the box-office chart, ahead of titles such as Warner's Aquaman, which sold 101,577 tickets after six weeks on release.
The success of Taxi Blues comes on the heels of two local blockbusters that shook up the autumn/winter season in Serbian cinemas. Miloš Avramović's second feature film, the crime-action-comedy South Wind, had one of the strongest openings in recent years when it was released 14 weeks ago, and it finished the year on top of the annual box-office chart, with 602,672 admissions and takings of €1.7 million.
The gritty Belgrade underground set-up involving car thieves, drug dealers and corrupt cops has been well received by the critics, and ecstatically so by audiences. No wonder, as it features high-octane action and quotable, comic (also often misogynistic and xenophobic), macho one-liners that Serbian cinemagoers traditionally appreciate more than anything else in movies. The cast is also star-studded, led by the now internationally popular Miloš Biković, whose recent outings in Russia included the megahit Ice, and who broke out in the 2010 football epic Montevideo, Taste of a Dream – which was, in turn, produced and directed by household name Dragan Bjelogrlić, who also stars in South Wind. In addition, the film features the last role performed by the most acclaimed actor of his generation, Nebojša Glogovac (Circles [+see also:
interview: Nikola Rakocevic
interview: Srdan Golubovic
film profile]), who died in February 2018.
Another big local hit of 2018 was the World War I epic King Peter the First, directed by Petar Ristovski and starring his father (and producer of the film), Lazar Ristovski (Train Driver's Diary [+see also:
interview: Milos Radović
film profile]), in the role of the titular monarch. Serbia is very proud of its World War I history, and Film Center Serbia ran a funding competition for films dealing with this particular subject, resulting in two movies being made. In addition to Ristovski's movie, Predrag Antonijević, best known for his 1998 Hollywood outing Savior, also released Soldier's Lullaby.
Ristovski fared much better, though: 166,001 admissions in 2018 (at the time of writing it is still going strong, with 197,583), compared to Antonijević's 42,037. Nevertheless, this success has been somewhat smeared with controversy within the filmmaking community, revolving around alleged corruption based on Ristovski's position in the political and financial establishment.
Regardless, Serbian audiences have always preferred a good local film, and if in the mid- and late 1990s and early 2000s every year saw a big local blockbuster, in recent years they have been somewhat rarer (Montevideo in 2010 and its sequel in 2014, and Bećković's films in 2014 and 2016). Nevertheless, it is evident that the tradition is still being upheld.
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