Smilla's Sense of Snow

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    [Total: 9 Average: 3.4]
  • Directed By: Bille August
  • Written By: Ann Biderman
  • Release Date: February 28, 1997
  • Domestic Distributor: Fox Searchlight
  • Cast: Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Redgrave

Box Office Info:
Budget: $35 millionFinanced by: Constantin; German Federal Film Board; FilmFernsehFonds Bayern; Danish Film Institute; Nordic Film & TV Fund
Domestic Box Office: $2,372,903Overseas Box Office: $15,626,448

smilla's sense of snow 1997
After Peter Høeg’s acclaimed 1992 novel Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (changed to Smilla’s Sense of Snow in the US) became an international best seller, German based Constantin optioned the rights.  Constantin introduced the project at the 1994 American Film Market as a pricey German/Nordic co-production.  The budget for Smilla’s Sense of Snow was $35 million.  Constantin majority financed and received additional coin from the German Federal Film Board, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, the Danish Film Institute and the Nordic Film & TV Fund.

  Constantin handled international sales to distributors and there was much buzz around the project — which netted some very high sales reported at $4.5M for the Scandinavia rights and $3M for the UK rights.

Julia Ormond had gone from a relative unknown to landing prominent roles in the Hollywood movies Legends of the Fall, First Knight and Sabrina and was being pushed as the next major star — with Smilla’s Sense of Snow as her first solo star vehicle.  After her miscast role as Smilla, heat around the actress cooled off considerably.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow premiered in competition at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival and much of the strong buzz and hype was deflated when it landed mixed to poor reviews.  The ending was almost unanimously ridiculed as far fetched and idiotic.

Fox Searchlight acquired the stateside rights and was left to sell a poorly reviewed thriller to the public with no star power.  Smilla was booked into 8 theaters and pulled in $107,108 with a mediocre $13,388 per screen average.  Audiences did not like the picture any more than critics and gave it a toxic C+ cinemascore.  Searchlight never expanded the movie beyond 135 theaters during its run and the box office receipts stalled at just $2,372,903.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow was a non-performer overseas as well for the numerous distributors that overpaid for the botched prestige film.  The offshore cume was $15.6M.

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