Östlund’s Palme d’or winning film is already a resounding BO success in the 14 international territories where it has opened so far, especially in the US, France, Germany and Poland.
Despite a 2.5 hour length, the satire set in the art world has crossed over to younger crowds outside the core adult audience, thanks notably to its programming in a mix of arthouse venues and multiplexes - even in smaller territories -, excellent word of mouth and critical applaud, according to Philippe Bober, co-producer and managing director of sales outfit The Coproduction Office.
"The Square has unprecedented results, with top print averages in the three large territories where it is released: it is n°1 in the US and in Germany, and n°2 in France - but n°1 if we consider only foreign films", said Bober, adding: "Compared to Öslund’s previous film Force Majeure which was his most commercial film with more than one million admissions worldwide, The Square seems well on its way to double that!" For instance in Russia Force Majeure totalled 3,850 admissions, vs 25,000 so far for The Square since September 7; in Poland, Force Majeure sold 17,000 tickets in total, vs 78,000 for The Square since September 15, In Estonia Force Majeure ended at 6,000, vs 7,000 for The Square in its first week; in France the film is nearing 200,000 admissions in its second week and should double Force Majeure’s final count, while in Germany, The Square could even quadruple the final tally of Force Majeure.
In the US, where Magnolia Pictures is working on The Square’s pre-Oscar campaign, the film had the best opening of all speciality films last weekend and one of the strongest openings for a foreign language film in 2017 with $76,000, for a $19,000 screen average. The film out-performed Force Majeure’s opening in 2014 which posted $23,309 from two screens, averaging $11,655. The cumulative gross was $1,359,497.
“The Square is off to a terrific and very promising start", told Magnolia’s executive VP Matt Cowal to nordicfilmandtvnews.com. He added: “Compared to previous Palme d’or winners, the film had a far better opening weekend than the last three winners [handled by Magnolia].” Indeed last year’s winner I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach opened with $18,682 from 12 screens, averaging $1,557, and ended up with $260,354. In 2016 Dheepan by Jacques Audiard kicked off with $20,249 from 2 screens ($10,125 average) and closed with $248,392; in 2014, Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan opened with $6,438 from 1 screen and closed with $216,141. The 2012 Palme d’or Amour by Michael Haneke which ended up grossing a record $6.7 million, had a comparable opening with $68,266 from 3 screens ($22,755 average).
Only the 2013 winner Blue is the Warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche out-performed The Square’s opening with $100,316 from 4 screens ($25,079 average) and ended its career at $2.1 million. Cowal said Magnolia is now doing ‘an aggressive’ Academy film awards campaign, together with the Swedish production company Plattform, with ads, screeners and special screenings. Ruben Östlund and actress Elizabeth Moss have done a lot of press on the film’s behalf, and Claes Bang will be doing more awards press in the weeks to come, noted the US distributor.
Producer Erik Hemmendorff added: “We’re much better prepared than with Force Majeure and enjoying the collaboration with Magnolia Pictures. We’ve already won the most prestigious award of all, the Palme d’or; it’s just fun now to play with the idea that we could add an Oscar!”
Meanwhile in Sweden, the film is playing on 18 screens in its 10th week and has sold 150,650 tickets so far via TriArt; in Norway cumulated admissions are 17,257 after 5 weeks for Arthaus and in Iceland more than 2,100 people have seen the film released by Bió Paradís early September. Finnkino is launching the film in Finland on November 17 and Scanbox in Denmark on November 23.
The Square is nominated for the UK BIFA awards-Best International Independent Film, and for the European Film Awards as Best European Comedy.