Kon-Tiki breaks Norway box office record

Big-budget Norwegian blockbuster Kon-Tiki set a national box office record as it attracted more cinema-goers than any other film in history in its opening weekend.

Kon-Tiki breaks Norway box office record

With 164,191 paying customers, the film about adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific expedition sailed past the previous record-holder Max Manus, a 2008 drama by the same directors, Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning.

“It’s fantastic. The expectations have been enormous," said producer Aage Aaberge.

"We’re incredibly pleased to see that audiences have embraced the film we’ve worked on for so many years".

Thor Heyerdahl’s own book about the dramatic 1947 raft expedition has been translated into 70 languages and is thought to have sold more than 50 million copies.

A film documentary about the expedition won an Oscar in 1951, as Heyerdahl became one of the best-known Norwegians of modern times.

Kon-Tiki is the third feature film to be directed by Sandberg and Rønning. Max Manus, a film about the World War II resistance fighter of the same name, was a huge box office success in Norway with 1.2 million cinema tickets sold.

They also directed Bandidas, a Western comedy starring Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz.

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Better luck next year: Norway’s Oscar drought continues

Hopes that Norway would claim its first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film were dashed when ‘Kongens nei’ (English title: The King’s Choice) was not among the nominees announced on Tuesday.

Better luck next year: Norway's Oscar drought continues
'Kongens Nei' got a 'nei' from the Oscar committee. Photo: Paradox Film
Director Erik Poppe’s film about King Haakon VII’s resistance to the Nazi invasion of Norway had survived the cut from 85 submissions to nine but was not among the five finalists revealed on Tuesday. 
Adding insult to injury, Norway's two Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden are among the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film with ‘Land of Mine' and ‘A Man Called Ove’, respectively. The other films that will vie for the award at the Oscars gala in Los Angeles next month are 'The Salesman' (Iran), 'Tanna' (Australia) and 'Toni Erdmann' (Germany).
‘Kongens nei’ was hoping to be just the sixth Norwegian nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film. The previous nominees were ‘Ni liv’ in 1957, ‘Veiviseren’ in 1987, ‘Søndagsengler’ in 1996, ‘Elling’ in 2001 and ‘Kon-Tiki’ in 2012. None of those managed to take home the Oscar, so there were high hopes that ‘Kongens nei’ could make Norwegian film history and end the country's Oscar drought. 
Instead, the best Norwegian film buffs can now hope for is that one of their neighbours claims the prize. The Danish entry ‘Land of Mine’ (Original title: Under Sanden) is about a group of German POWs who are made to clear Danish beaches of Nazi mines following the war. Swedish hopeful  'A Man Called Ove' (original title: En man som heter Ove) meanwhile tells the story of a Saab-driving curmudgeon who has his heart opened by a warm new neighbour.
The German entry ‘Toni Erdmann’ is also a clear favourite, with the comedy winning best film, director, actress, actor and screenwriter at the European Film Awards earlier this month. 
Some 720,000 Norwegians saw 'Kongens Nei' in theatres, making the war drama the biggest box office draw in what was the Norwegian film industry's best year in more than four decades