In January, the National Film Centre of Latvia compiled statistical data of the film sector from the previous year. The 2019 data show that the viewers’ interest in the Latvian films has not subsided, moreover, exhibition outside the capital Riga has significantly grown in municipal cinemas, local film exhibition venues and schools.
After the boost in 2018, stimulated by the Latvian Films for Latvia’s Centennial programme, concerns that attendance of the Latvian films could decrease rapidly have not materialized – the total attendance of the Latvian films in 2019 reached almost 549,000, almost keeping up with 560,00 in 2018. Also, the national market share remains at 20% – still three times bigger than it was in 2017 and before.
Head of the National Film Centre Dita Rietuma concludes, “The statistical data are gratifying. Owing to the genre and thematic diversity of films, it was possible to keep alive the audience’s interest in the Latvian films, having peaked in 2018 with the best indices since the restoration of Latvia’s independence and covering 22% of the overall market. Also in 2019, the Latvian films have attracted the audience of more than half a million viewers in film theatres, indicating that, despite the fierce competition with the Hollywood films in both cinemas and various digital platforms, the Latvian films have large audience in the traditional venues of film exhibition.”
Accordng to the statistics, the most important trend of 2019 is that the total attendance of each film is made up not only from the film theatre audiences in Riga but also from rising interest of viewers in the Latvian towns and rural municipalities. Film theatres operate in 23 other towns of Latvia, and the demand of the audience encourages also other venues of film exhibition to improve their technical provision, thus the gap between Riga and elsewhere in Latvia in this respect diminishes. In 2019, in total 287,126 tickets for the shows of the Latvian films were purchased in Riga against 261,812 tickets outside Riga.
In 2019, the total attendance in Latvia (including foreign films) reached above 2.5 million (2,723,422 tickets), besides, two Latvian films have entered the top of most attended films, demonstrating a genre and stylistic range – No.1, as it could be predicted since its premiere in November, is the historically patriotic drama The Blizzard of Souls by Dzintars Dreibergs (226,984 viewers till 31 December) while No.7 is taken by the contemporary comedy Class Reunion by Andrejs Ēķis (80,967 viewers). Top of the most attended foreign films forms the US-produced family films, moreover, the adventures of already familiar heroes – The Lion King, How to Train Your Dragon 3 and The Secret Life of Pets 2.
In the list of the most attended Latvian films, both the above mentioned pictures are followed by the feature Jelgava ’94 by Jānis Ābele (34,597 viewers), the Centennial animation film Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs (28,926 viewers) by Edmunds Jansons, the Latvian-Estonian co-production film Lote and the Lost Dragons (27, 502 viewers), the low-budget feature Nearby by Alise Zariņa (24,970 viewers), the comedy The New Year’s Eve Taxi 2 by Māris Martinsons (23,296 viewers), and other films.
All the statistical data regarding the film industry will be published in February in the annual edition of the National Film Centre, Facts & Figures, which has traditionally been prepared for Latvia’s participation in the Berlin International Film Festival and comparatively illustrates the situation in the three Baltic States.
In the beginning of 2019 with the premieres of two Centennial films, the programme of the National Film Centre, Latvian Films for Latvia’s Centennial has concluded. The total attendance of 16 films produced within the programme and premiered since August 2017 equals to 453,435.