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BOX OFFICE Romania

Record breaker Miami Bici saves the Romanian domestic box office from total disaster

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- Jesús del Cerro’s movie helped total admissions for domestic films to drop by only 23%, and not by 94%, in 2020

Record breaker Miami Bici saves the Romanian domestic box office from total disaster
Miami Bici by Jesús del Cerro

As only 12 domestic films were released in Romanian cinemas in 2020, with some features favouring alternative releases and others – for example, Cristi Puiu’s Berlinale-awarded Malmkrog [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Cristi Puiu
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]
– waiting for clearer exhibition skies, one would have expected a very dramatic plunge in terms of earnings and admissions for domestic features in 2020. Admissions did indeed decrease by 23%, down from 785,957 in 2019, but it could have been much, much worse: remove only one title from the list of releases, and this drop would have been as steep as 94%.

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The saviour of the Romanian domestic box office in 2020 was Jesús del Cerro’s Miami Bici, a low-brow independent comedy released by Vertical Entertainment on 21 February, only weeks before all of the cinemas were closed (18 March) because of the pandemic. In less than one month, Miami Bici was seen by 552,238 Romanians, a success that confirms the film as the most popular domestic release in 25 years, following Cornel Diaconu’s Live Paradise (circa 571,000 admissions in 1994, according to the Romanian National Film Center). Miami Bici earned as much as €2.41 million out of the total €2.56 million raked in by domestic releases in 2020.

To better assess the popularity of this comedy, during the period between 2011 and 2020, there were only five other features at the general box office with better figures, and they all, of course, were big studio blockbusters, such as Avengers: Endgame, Frozen II and Aquaman. Even if Miami Bici was widely panned by critics (and even cinemagoers’ reactions were less than laudatory towards its qualities), this comedy about two poor Romanians (Matei Dima and Codin Maticiuc) trying to make it big in the United States took advantage of both the traditionally poor February release slate and the increasing anxiety regarding the pandemic to persuade Romanians to flock to the cinemas to watch it and have a bit of fun.

Besides the success of Miami Bici, the situation was absolutely dire: the 11 other Romanian titles released in 2020 garnered a total of less than 47,000 admissions, according to data made public by the country’s most popular film website, Cinemagia.ro. Alexander Nanau's documentary Collective [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
, which is now the only Romanian feature in history to have been shortlisted for two categories at the Oscars, was seen by 22,503 cinemagoers. Another documentary, businessman-turned-activist Ştefan Mandachi's self-promotional 30 Years and 15 Minutes, totalled 6,235 admissions, followed by Dorian Boguţă's Legacy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, with 3,505 admissions, Radu Jude's Uppercase Print [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
(3,157 admissions) and Radu Ciorniciuc's doc Acasă - My Home [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Radu Ciorniciuc
film profile
]
(2,491).

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