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Peter Toiviainen • Distributor

European Distributors: Up Next! 2009 - Finland

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Peter Toiviainen  • Distributor

Peter Toivainen runs the Finnish arm of major Scandinavian distributor Sandrew Metronome, whose line-up consists of Warner Bros (WB, which Sandrew Metronome has been releasing since the late 1990s), European and local titles.

Cineuropa: Do you release all the films from your mother company Sandrew Metronome? What is the breakdown in your line-up of European, Finnish and US titles?
Peter Toiviainen: We choose the films we want to release. In 2008, around 74.7% of the films we released were US, 12.1% European, 11.8% Finnish and 1.4% were from other countries.

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What was your market share in 2008 and your most successful titles?
In 2008, our share of the Finnish box office was 13.2% (including WB films). The most successful title picked up by Sandrew Metronome was French film Asterix at the Olympic Games [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, with 55,417 admissions. Then the Finnish films Christmas Story [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, which sold 54,483 tickets (and opened on November 16, 2007); Falling Angels with 20,417 admissions; and horror film Sauna [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
with 20,344 admissions. The most successful Warner Bros film was The Dark Knight (296,020 admissions).

Do you put minimum guarantees (MGs) on Finnish films that you acquire for distribution? What ongoing relationship do you have with local producers?
Yes, we pay MGs on Finnish films. We are distributing the two next upcoming films from producer Aleksi Bardy (Helsinki Filmi): Toni Laine’s Playground [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(to be released October 3) and Dome Karukoski’s Lapland Odyssey, to be released late 2010.

On January 29, 2010 we will release Bad Family, the new film from the director of A Man’s Job [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Aleksi Salmenperä, which is produced by Aki Kaurismäki’s company Sputnik Oy. Other local titles for 2010 include Arto Halonen’s Princess and the animated family film Magic Crystal by Antti Haikala. Finally, in early 2011 we will release Hella W, the new film by the director of Christmas Story, Juha Wuolijoki.

How is the current theatrical market for European films in Finland and how could it be improved?
The theatrical market for European films has always been good in Finland. French Films have always worked well. Amelie was a big success in 2001/2002 (distributed by Cinema Mondo). Finnish audiences also love Pedro Almodovar. Sandrew Metronome distributed his six last films with great success in Finland, such as Volver [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Agustín Almodóvar
interview: Carmen Maura
interview: Pedro Almodóvar
interview: Pénélope Cruz
film profile
]
, which sold over 86,000 tickets in 2006. The same year, The Queen [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andy Harries
interview: Stephen Frears
film profile
]
, distributed by Sandrew Metronome, was number 14 in the Finnish Top 20 with 112,881 admissions.

Still, I’m little bit worried about the future. At the moment we have two good, modern multiplexes in Helsinki. But at same time, we lack good move-over cinemas. Big multiplexes show European films but the run is usually short and they need to have good move-over screens. If we look back to the year 2000 we had roughly 20 move-over screens in Helsinki showing art-house/European films. Today we have only two.

What do you think of the EFP’s European Distributors Up Next! initiative in San Sebastian?
I think this is a good forum to meet colleagues from other European territories and to exchange ideas on how to develop distribution strategies for European movies.

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