RIGA: Three of the top five films at the Latvian box office are domestic releases, accounting for 28 percent of the market share. The boom is led by Aigars Grauba’s historic drama The Pagan King produced by Platforma Filma, Oskars Rupenheit’s debut feature The Foundation of Criminal Excellence produced by COMETE Films, OrderOrder and Jura Podnieka Studija, and Madara Dišlere’s family film Paradise ‘89 produced by Tasse Film.
“It is fantastic and a unique event in Latvian cinema history during the last three decades,” Dita Rietuma, Head of National Film Centre of Latvia, told FNE. “These numbers have grown thanks to an increase in domestic film production, which is largely because of the special programme ‘Latvian Films for the Latvian Centenary’.’ This programme added 7.5 million EUR to the national film budget spread across three years. “But the most important news is that Latvian viewers have rediscovered Latvian films and appreciate them,” she added. The Latvian success story parallels the situation in neighboring Estonia, which also saw a multifold increase in funding for films to celebrate its 2018 independence centennial, accompanied by a rise in attendance for domestic films.
“This is a noteworthy development in the history of theatrical exhibition in Latvia. Overall, to add also the documentary To Be Continued directed by Ivars Seleckis and produced in the framework of the Latvian Films for Latvia’s Centennial programme, the attendance to domestic films currently constitutes 28% of the market,” said Ilze Roķe, Head of Film Distribution at Forum Cinemas. During the last five years, the domestic share had reached a high of just 7.84%, in 2017.
The last time Latvia saw a similar national success was in 2007, with the historic drama Defenders of Riga also directed by Aigars Grauba, with more than 200,000 viewers.
Since the beginning of 2018, the highest attendance figures were achieved by The Pagan King, which premiered on 17 January, reaching 79,216 viewers. It is followed by The Foundation of Criminal Excellence, which premiered on 2 February in the second place with 66,341 viewers, and Paradise '89, which premiered on 22 February, with 49,444 viewers, in the fourth place. Third place is held by Universal Pictures’ Fifty Shades Freed (in cinemas from 7 February; 56, 997 viewers) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (in cinemas from 22 December 2017; 43,000 viewers) trails in the fifth place.