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BOX OFFICE Estonia

Estonian films verging on securing one-quarter of the local market

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- 2019 was another successful year for Estonian productions, with increased box-office returns, while Truth and Justice has proven to be the most-watched film since Estonia’s independence

Estonian films verging on securing one-quarter of the local market
Truth and Justice by Tanel Toom

According to reports released by the Estonian Film Institute (EFI), 2019 was another ground-breaking year for the Estonian box office. After an extremely successful 2018, last year saw even higher figures racked up by local productions, a bigger market share, and a smash hit in the form of Tanel Toom’s epic drama Truth and Justice [+see also:
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, which officially became the most-watched film since Estonia’s independence in 1991 (see the news).

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In detail, Estonian films continued to enjoy the significant growth that has already been evident over the last three years. Domestic admissions skyrocketed, reaching 848,000 tickets sold for 57 films – 29 new and 28 older releases – resulting in an increase of over 40% compared to the pleasing figure of over 600,000 admissions in 2018. This success brought the box-office returns to over €4.58 million for Estonian films, and their market share had a consecutive increase of over 50% last year, reaching 23% of the total market, whereas in 2018 that share was 15%. It should be noted that the total number of tickets sold last year, for all 427 distributed films (313 new and 114 older releases), was 3,685,522, and the box-office revenues also increased, reaching almost €21.8 million.

Edith Sepp, the head of the EFI, commented: “These are excellent results that should become the norm. It’s common in Scandinavia, but also in Lithuania and Poland, that domestic films make up about one-quarter of the number of all cinemagoers. It goes to show the strength of domestic film. Domestic movies are also important for the Estonian audience, and the bar is high. In order to maintain that level, the production budget should be similar to The Republic of Estonia 100 (EV100) film programme. Filmmakers have certainly lived up to expectations, and it should be appreciated.”

As expected, the highlight of the EV100 programme was Tanel Toom’s Truth and Justice, an epic story that has been seen by over 267,500 paying viewers since its release in February last year. The film, which also made it onto December’s shortlist for the 92nd Academy Awards, for Best International Feature Film, was of course the most popular picture of the year – and the most popular one since Estonia’s independence.

Second place among the domestic productions was reserved for René Vilbre’s comedy Class Reunion 3: Godfathers, which drew in more than 122,000 viewers, and it’s worth noting that the previous film in the series, Class Reunion 2, was the most successful title of 2018. Two more Estonian films reached the top ten at the box office: the documentary on the titular Estonian World Rally Championship driver Ott Tänak: The Movie by Tarvo Mölder came in in seventh place, with over 96,000 tickets, while the animated film Old Man - The Movie [+see also:
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by Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi secured tenth position, with more than 86,600 admissions. Also, Lotte and the Lost Dragons [+see also:
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, the third instalment in the successful Lotte animation franchise, created by Heiki Ernits and Janno Põldma, which enjoyed an impressive opening in January (see the news) and is also part of the EV100 programme, has taken the 11th spot, with almost 76,750 cinemagoers having watched it.

On this success, Sepp also added: “While last year we had three Estonian films in the top ten – something we had dreamed of for years – to find five domestic films among the first 11 films is simply delightful.”

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