Country Focus: Belgium
Flemish cinema enjoys remarkably stable audience figures
by Aurore Engelen
19/01/2010 - While the year 2008 ended triumphantly with the runaway success of Erik Van Looy and Bart De Pauw’s Loft [trailer] (900,000 viewers in 2008), the odds were that 2009 would compare unfavourably, and figures would fall.
However, observers have remarked that if it hadn’t been for the exceptionally bad weather at the end of last year, the 2m admissions mark could have been crossed. This is all the more surprising as 2009’s Flemish releases didn’t include a major blockbuster like Loft. Unlike the previous year, hopes had to be pinned on several titles, including outside favourites.
Felix Van Groeningen’s The Misfortunates [trailer, film focus] crept onto screens, attracting 425,000 viewers. This is an impressive result for a demanding film, a bitter plunge into the depths of a Flanders that offers few opportunities to its young generations.
In second position is Jan Verheyen’s The K File [trailer], the much-awaited sequel to The Alzheimer Case [trailer]. The film garnered 220,000 admissions (it should, however, be noted that the film was only released on December 9, and has now exceeded 300,000 admissions).
Next in line, numerous challengers push up the audience figures. Loft drew another 200,000 viewers in 2009, while S & M Judge attracted 120,000, The Over the Hill Band [trailer] 82,000, and Sister Smile [trailer] 73,000.
As every year, children’s films contribute largely to the success of Flemish cinema. In 2009, titles included The Secret of Mega Mindy (185,000 admissions), Bob & Bobette (100,000), and Anubis and the Revenge of Arghus (66,300).
Finally, the market share for Flemish films is almost 20% in Flanders, and almost 10% in Belgium overall, which is an impressive coefficient on a European level.
The icing on the cake is that Flemish cinema enjoyed international glory in 2009, including at the latest Cannes Film Festival, with the selection of Altiplano [trailer], Lost Persons Area [trailer], and The Misfortunates. The latter made an impression on Croisette audiences and is now enjoying a successful run in France, where it was released on December 30.