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'100-Year-Old-Man' Takes Over Swedish Box Office

MoviesLiteratureBerlin International Film FestivalAlfonso CuaronThe Intouchables (movie)

A quirky and adventurous geriatric is running roughshod over the Swedish box office.

Felix Herngren's "The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared," released by Disney Nordic on 400 screens Dec. 25, has passed the 1 million-admission mark at the local B.O.. With $14 million, it's aiming to overtake top-grossing "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," which inked $16.4 million in 2009.

The Swedish-language comedy -- based on the bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson, which has sold 5 million copies in 35 territories -- centers on a centenarian who escapes his nursing home to embark on a journey around the world.

Perhaps even more impressively, the film has performed well in Norway, Denmark and Finland; Scandinavian movies rarely score high numbers across Nordic territories. "Dragon Tattoo" also drew pan-Scandinavian auds, minting $41 million-plus across Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

"'The 100-Year-Old Man' is the Scandinavian 'Intouchables,' " says Olivier Courson, Studiocanal CEO and chairman, referring to the monster French hit that grossed $426 million worldwide. "It's sort of reminiscent of 'Forrest Gump' but it's even crazier. It's so original and fun, and the characters are extremely endearing."

Studiocanal, the pic's sales agent and distributor in France, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, has closed deals for the film in many territories, including Hong Kong (Edko), Italy (Eagle), Japan (Longride), South Korea (Bloomage), Spain (A Contracorriente), Canada (Mongrel) and Portugal (Lusomundo). The movie had pre-sold to Wild Bunch for Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Getting the book's rights was a coup for Stockholm-based producer Nice Drama, which launched in 2012. The book was released in late 2009, and was an instant success, quickly attracting about 20 bidders. Nice Drama was the lowest bidder at the time, admitted the shingle's co-founder, Henrik Jansson-Schweizer.

"We obviously had the right take and a strong vision about how this quite complicated but fantastic story should be told on the screen -- and when we later joined forces with director Felix Herngren and attached (popular Swedish) actor Robert Gustafsson, we had a solid package," he adds.

Even though the movie has already opened across Scandinavia, it's been added to the Berlinale Special lineup due to its resounding B.O. success, says Pia Lundberg, head of the Swedish Film Institute's international department.

"The Berlin Film Festival usually accepts films that have opened in their local market only," she says, "but the selection committee was willing to make an exception because they realized ("The 100-Year-Old Man") was such a cultural phenomenon."

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