The most popular Swedish film of 2004 was Oscar nominee As it is in Heaven (Så som i himmelen), according to figures released on Thursday by the Swedish Film Institute.
“Swedish films are simply getting better,” said the institute’s Jan Göransson.
With over 1.1 million admissions – which accounted for 7% of all cinema visits – the tear-jerker directed by Kay Pollak was the first Swedish film to head the box office list since 2000, when Together (Tillsammans) by Lukas Moodysson hit the top.
Since the new year, As it is in Heaven’s success has continued, with admissions rising to almost 1.4 million.
The other films in the 2004 top five, in order of audience size, were Lord of the Rings – Return of the King, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Brother Bear and Spider-Man 2.
While the overall number of admissions at Swedish cinemas was down 9% compared to 2003, at 16.6 million, the number of people going to see Swedish films rose by 7% and the market share for Swedish films rose by 3.4% over the year to 23.3%.
“Swedish films from the last few years have communicated better with the public,” said Jan Göransson.
“We have better directors and better actors these days. We used to make more historical dramas but recently there has been a shift towards more realistic movies.”
Göransson also pointed to an increasing number of successful ‘feel-good’ films, a trend he says started with Lukas Moodysson’s Show Me Love (Fucking Åmal) in 1998.
The five most popular Swedish films in 2004 accounted for 58% of all admissions to Swedish movies, with As it is in Heaven alone accounting for 30%.
Jan Göransson told The Local that the reason fewer Swedes are going to see American films is not to do with quality but promotion.
“The Swedish media is a lot more focused on Swedish film these days. We used to have American stars coming over all the time to promote their movies in the newspapers and on TV, but they don’t seem to come any more.”
“Except Will Smith,” he added. “He’s been here three times recently.”