2022 Nordic Box Office on the Road to Recovery

2022 Nordic Box Office on the Road to Recovery

The theatrical market across the Nordics recovered in 2022 without reaching pre-pandemic levels, driven predominantly by U.S. fare, such as “Top Gun: Maverick,” the biggest hit in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” No 1 in Iceland, and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” No 1 in Norway. 

As always Danish movies secured the biggest national market share (30%), followed by Finland (27%), Norway (23%) Sweden (19.3%), and Iceland (10%). Revenues were often more equally split across a larger number of titles, reaching record levels in several territories, as a result of COVID, that created a bottleneck of new releases. 


After a quiet start of the year with theaters locked down for the first two weeks due to COVID, ticket sales kickstarted again and ended up at 10.23 million, which is 49% up over 2021, but 20% down on pre-pandemic levels. 

Revenue-wise, the Danish market hit DKK 994.67 million ($144.3 million), up 52% from the 2021 annus horribilis for cinemas, but just 16% down on the 2019 trawl, according to the Danish Film Institute (DFI), and based on figures from cinema association FAFID. 

Hollywood titles came back in force after two low-key pandemic years, and grabbed 58% of the Danish market, almost on par with 2019 levels. 

The highest grosser was “Top Gun: Maverick” which locked 791,000 ticket sales or DKK 91.6 million ($13.29 million) in income. Despite its late 2022 release, “Avatar: The Way of Water” gave Disney the second spot at the Top 10, with 481,000 admissions worth DKK 69.3 million ($10.06 million) grosses. 

Martin Kofoed Hansen, an analysis consultant at the DFI, said that on the whole, the Danish theatrical market recovered relatively well from the pandemic compared to other E.U. nations, thanks mainly to the fact that “Danish movies account for a large share of the tickets sale year after year.”

And again in 2022, local titles grabbed 30% of the market from over 3 million admissions. This was up 7% from 2021, but still 10.8% down 2019. 

The top Danish title was “Bamse” (“A Lucky Man”) by Henrik Ruben Genz starring Anders W. Berthelsen as the Danish music legend Flemming “Bamse” Jørgensen. The biopic was among four local movies – all Nordisk Film releases – that secured a spot in a Top 10 otherwise fully Hollywood dominated. 

Niels Arden Oplen’s drama “Rose,” starring “The Killing” actress Sofie Gråbøl was the second biggest local hit, followed by the comedy “Fathers & Mothers” by Paprika Steen, turning on the challenges of parenthood and being parent class reps. Another local comedy – “All for Four” – or the four instalment in Rasmus Heide’s buddy movie, sold nearly 300,000 tickets. 

Two WWII dramas – “The Bereaved” by Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis and “Out of Darkness” by Anders Refn … ranked 5th and 7th among top local titles, while Lars Kaalund’s romantic drama “Hold My Hand,” starring Mille Dinesen and Ulrich Thomsen, sneaked in at No. 6 among the  year’s Danish favourites. 

2023 looks strong again for home-grown movies, according to the DFI, with no less than 14 titles lined-up over the first three months, including the Rotterdam and Göteborg competition entry “Copenhagen Doesn’t Exist” by Martin Skovbjerg, penned by Eskil Vogt (“The Worst Person in the World,”), “The Kiss” by Bille August, and the IDFA top winning documentary “Apolonia, Apolonia” by Lea Glob. 

Top 10 Films in Denmark, 2022

Ranking based on admissions (title, distributor, admissions, gross, release date)

1 “Top Gun: Maverick,” UIP, 791,000, DKK 91.6 million ($13.29 million), May 26, 2022

2 “Avatar 2: The Way of Water,” Disney, 481,000, DKK 69.3 million ($10.6 million), Dec.14, 2022

3 “A Lucky Man,” Nordisk Film, 480,000, DKK 37.7 million ($5.4 million), Aug. 25, 2022

4 “Spiderman: No Way Home,” SF Studios, 409,000, DKK 47 million ($6.8 million), Dec. 16.2021

5 “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” UIP, 399.000, DKK 38 million ($5.5 million), June 30, 2022

6 “Where the Crawdads Sing,” SF Studios, 380,000, DKK 28.9 million ($5.64 million), Sept. 29, 2022

7 “Rose,” Nordisk Film, 364,000, DKK 27 million ($3.9 million), Feb, 24, 2022

8 “Fathers & Mothers,” Nordisk Film, 346,000, DKK 27.9 million ($4.05 million), Nov.03, 2022

9 “All for Four,” Nordisk Film, 298,000, DKK 30 million ($4.3 million), Aug. 11, 2022

10 “Sing 2,” UIP, 292,000, DKK 26.4 million ($3.8 million), Feb.03, 2022

(Source: FAFID, provisional data)


Despite COVID-related restrictions until February, the Finnish cinema market enjoyed a spectacular recovery, surging nearly 89% over 2021 in B.O. terms to €82 million ($89.4 million) and 70.2% in admissions. Overall admissions reached 5.82 million, according to the Finnish Film Foundation. 

That said, ticket sales were still lower by a sizeable 32% compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 annual average of 8.55 million head-counts. 

Released in May by Paramount’s Finnish distribution partner Finnkino, “Top Gun: Maverick” was still No. 4 in September and ended up as 2022’s B.O. champion, selling 436,000 tickets worth over €6.12 million ($6.6 million). The hefty earnings gave it a 7th spot among Finland’s biggest grossers of all time. 

Second in command was Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” released as well under Finnkino’s banner, which sold 358,058 tickets worth €4.1 million ($4.5 million) in revenue. 

“The May to July period was on par average pre-pandemic levels, but after that, numbers were a lot below average”, noted Petri Peltonen, statistics and research specialist at the Finnish Film Foundation. However, “Avatar: The Way of Water”rekindled moviegoing mid-December, and ended up as the 5th biggest hit of 2022. 

Hollywood fare that had slid to a record low 34.5% slice of the market in 2020 and 41.3% in 2021, during the pandemic years, came closer to their usual 60% share, at 53.7%. 

All in all, the top selling movies were all sequels or new takes on well-known IP, including the Finnish movie “The Grump: In Search of an Escort” (Mielensäpahoittaja eskorttia etsinässä), the only domestic title that made it into the Top 10. 

2022 was also marked by a surge in new releases – over 300, the highest volume in more than a decade, of which 62 were Finnish productions or co-productions. 

Thanks to a wide array of genres and titles, Finnish movies locked the year with 1.5 million ticket sales, up 81.5% from 2021, a level on a par with pre-pandemic times, although only three titles crossed the 100,000 admissions mark. The local market share was satisfactory at nearly 27%, compared to 16.8% in 2019. 

Beside the comedy drama “The Grump: In Search of an Escort,” the family movie “Super Furball Saves the Future” based on a favourite children’s books franchise, and “My Sailor, My love,” first English lingo movie from Golden Globe nominated Klaus Härö, tempted 126,201 and 110,137 viewers respectively. 

Top 10 Films in Finland 2022

Ranking based on admissions (Title, distributor, admissions, gross, release date)

1 “Top Gun: Maverick,” Finnkino, 436,069, € 6.1 million ($6.6 million), May 26

2 “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” Finnkino, 358,058, € 4.1 million ($84.1 million), June 29

3 “The Grump: In Search of an Escort,” Nordisk Film, 192,689, €2.3 million ($2.5 million), Sep.09

4 “The Batman,” SF Studios, 173,996, €2.4 million ($2.6 million), March 04

5 “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Disney, 158,548, €2.4 million ($2.6 million), Dec. 14

6 “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” SF Studios, 146,746, €1.9 million ($2.1 million), April 08

7 “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Disney, 143,814, €1.8 million ($2.05 million), May 05

8 “Downton Abbey, A New Era,” 134,448, €1.8 million ($2 million), May 05

9 “Elvis,” SF Studios, 139,563, €1.7 million ($1.91 million), June 29

10 “Thor: Love & Thunder,” 137,874, €1.8 million ($1.99 million), July 06

(Source Finnish Film Foundation)


The small nation of 388,000 people among the most regular moviegoers in Europe, gradually came back to the silver screens, although not as avidly as in pre-pandemic times. Total screen income climbed by 18% to ISK 1,279 million ($8.9 million) year-on-year, and admissions surged 10.4% to 79,805, but bumps on seats were still 33.2% down from 2019. 

Hollywood fare and in particular sequels were the biggest draws, as underscored by Daníel Traustason, head of FRÍSK, the national rights-holders association. “The trend we saw in Iceland in 2022 is that moviegoers were clearly ready to see some recognisable faces. By looking at the highest box office films, only one in the Top 10 list wasn’t a sequel or a re-boot and that was “Elvis,” he said. 

The highest-grossing movie was Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” ($488,514) which overhauled two Warner Bros entries: “Elvis” ($430,310) and “The Batman” ($428,349). Walt Disney’s pre-Christmas release “Avatar: the Way of Water” sailed to No. 4, outperforming the Studios’ own Marvel Comics “Thor: Love and Thunder”. 

The only Icelandic movie that secured a spot in the Top 10 was the broad comedy “The Very Last Fishing Trip” by Þorkell S. Harðarson and Örn Marinó Arnarson, a sequel to their 2020 hit, which grabbed almost one third of all attendance for local movies in 2022. The second-biggest local seller was the musical action adventure for kids, “12 Hours to Destruction” (“Abbababb”), by prolific actress and TV director Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir. 

Other homegrown favourites were “A Letter from Helga,” the sophomore feature by rising talent Ása Hjörleifsdóttir (“The Swan,”) and Iceland’s Oscar candidate “Beautiful Beings” by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson. Local fare ended up with a 10% market share from ISK 127.6 million ($907,991) B.O. gross, down 12.8% from 2021. 

Looking at 2023, Traustason said he is “very optimistic as the tradition of going to the cinemas in Iceland is very deep in our culture and with no restrictions, people won’t want to miss great movies on the big screen.”

In fact 2023 had a rocket start for Icelandic movies with the dark comedy “Wild Game” about a dinner party between friends turned sour which claimed the top of the charts in its opening weekend Jan. 6, superseding “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The directorial debut of Elsa Maria Jakobsdóttir starring some of Iceland’s biggest names (Gisli Örn Gardarsson, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, Aníta Briem, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) is a remake of the Italian hit “Perfect Strangers.” 

Top 10 Films in Iceland 2022

Ranking based on box office (title, distributor, admissions, gross, release date)
1 “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” Myndform, 53,213, ISK 69,74 million ($488,514), June 29, 2022

2 “Elvis,” Samfilm, 37,657, ISK 61.4 million ($430,310), June 22, 2022

3 “The Batman,” Samfilm, 38,048, ISK 61.1 million ($428,349), March 04, 2022

4 “Avatar” The Way of Water,” Samfilm, 34,797, ISK 59.7 million ($418,793), Dec. 16, 2022

5 “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Samfilm, 35,855, ISK 59.6 million ($417,798), July 06

6 “Top Gun: Maverick,” Samfilm, 35,614, ISK 56.7 million ($397,282), May, 25

7 “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Samfilm, 32,052, ISK 52 million ($364,814), May 04

8 “The Very Last Fishing Trip,” 24,258, ISK45.1 million ($316,096), March 18, 2022

9 “Spider-man: No Way Home,” Sena, 26,607, ISK 40.4 million ($283,388), Dec. 17, 2021

10 “Sonic: The Hedghog 2,” Samfilm, 27,495, ISK 34.3 million ($240,413), April 01, 2022

(Source FRÍSK)


Movie-going picked up nicely in 2022 with a whopping 63% jump in revenue to NOK 1.1 billion ($108.6 million) and a 55% rise in admissions to 8,764,576, according to the Norwegian cinema association Film & Kino. 

Overall ticket sales were still 30% down on pre-pandemic times, but “the Norwegian movie market is definitely on its road to recover,” noted Espen L. Pedersen, head of Film & Kino: “We had a strong end of year with a nice mix of international top movies and top-level home-grown fare. Norwegians enjoy cinema as a social gathering point again, and 2022 has in many ways been a new start for cinema going in Norway,” he said. 

In terms of volume, 216 fresh titles opened in 2022 versus 196 in 2021, which is back to the average 200+ annual volume of new releases pre-COVID. However, the 32 new Norwegian titles had to fight for screen space, especially in the crowded fall period, as many releases were postponed during the pandemic. 

Hollywood fare returned to its usual ruling status securing a 63% slice of the market, up 59% from 2021, with three titles dominated the Top 10: “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” followed by “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Minions: the Rise of Gru,” while “Avatar: the Way of Water” became the fifth highest grosser after only 17 days on screens. 

As always, the wide range of local titles catering for all ages, converted to healthy NOK 256 million ($26 million) in box office grosses or 2.1 million ticket sales, up 28%7 from 2021. This enabled homegrown productions to secure 23% of the market. Three Norwegian films were among the top 10 best-sellers of the year. 

Norway’s Oscar entry “War Sailor,” the true story of ordinary Norwegian sailors whose heroic actions during WW2 helped defeat Nazi Germany, was the biggest local hit, followed by the heart-warming live action-CGI family outing “Teddy’s Christmas,” based on local writing legend Alf Prøysen’s universe. Another family movie based on a well-known IP-“The Olsen Gang-the Last Scream,” came in eighth, beating the U.S. superhero movies “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “The Batman.” 

Top Norwegian titles released late 2022 that will mostly rank among 2023’ biggest local earners include Erik Skjoldbjærg’s WW2 epic “Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat,” watched by a whopping 400,000 people after three weeks on screens, and the family movie “Thee Robbers and a Lion” by animation king Rasmus A. Sivertsen. 

Looking at 2023, Pedersen said: “There is reason to believe that attendance growth will continue, even if the share of ticket sales for Norwegian films might be somewhat lower, due to the production pause of major film projects during the pandemic, which will result in fewer major local film launches in 2023.”

Top 10 Films in Norway 2022

Ranking based on admissions (Title, distributor, admissions, gross, release date)

1 “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” SF Norge, 569,541, NOK 80.7 million ($8.17 million), Jan.21

2 “Top Gun: Maverick,” UIP, 545,042, NOK 80.3 million ($8.13 million), May, 25

3 “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” UIP, 432,831, NOK 50.4 million ($5.1 million), July,01

4 “War Sailor,” Scandinavian Film Distribution/Ymer Media, 403,990, NOK 53.3 million ($6.8 million), Sept.23

5 “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Disney, 375,774, NOK 59.9 million ($6 million), Dec. 14

6 “Sing 2,” UIP, 275,489, NOK 29.5 million ($2.9 million), Feb. 18

7 “Teddy’s Christmas,” Nordisk Film, 263,906, NOK 27.3 million ($2.7 million), Nov. 11

8 “The Olsen Gang-The Last Scream,” Nordisk Film, 240,901, NOK 28.5 million ($2.8 million), Sept. 02, 2022

9 “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Disney, 223,106, NOK 33 million ($3.34 million), July 06

10 “The Batman,” SF Norge, 212,000, NOK 32.7 million ($3.31 million), March 04

(source Film & Kino)


In line with the rest of the Nordics and most of Europe, moviegoing in Sweden picked up after two years of COVID slump. Unlike its neighbours, however, the country failed to place a single local title in the Top 10. 

Total box office surged 57.4% over 2021 to SEK 1.3 billion ($125.4 million) and admissions reached 10.4 million, which is a significant improvement on 2021 (+57.6%). Compared to 2019, this is still down 35%, according to the cinema association Biografägarnaskontrollbyrå.

As in other major E.U. territories such as Italy or France, Hollywood dominated the full top 10 and accounted for almost 69% of total auds, which is often the norm in the U.S.-cultural savvy Swedish market. 

Tom Cruise vehicle “Top Gun: Maverick” was the top box office champion with an estimated $11.2 million gross from 732,163 ticket sales. As in Denmark, “Avatar: The Way of Water” came in second after less than three weeks on screens, reaping over $8.1 million revenues from 523,993 admissions. 

Swedish movies that sold around 2 million tickets, improved their overall tally by more than 62% year on year, and stayed almost on a par with 2019 (2.1 million). Their market share at 19.3% was also the highest since 2014 – excluding 2020 where Swedish movies peaked at 26% during COVID. 

However, only one title, an  “I am Zlatan,” biopic about local soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, passed the 220,000 admission mark. Even Ruben Östlund’s triple-Oscar nominated and Palme d’or winner “Triangle of Sadness” failed to draw massive crowds and ranked 5th in the Top 10 of Swedish titles, with 143,535 admissions. 

Other popular movies were based on well-known IP: “Long Live the Bonus Family” by Felix Herngren (196,955 admissions), a feature spin-off of the hit TV show; “Jerry Maya’s Detective Agency – The Riddle of the Scorpion” (192,692), part of a family franchise; and the animated “Bamse and the Volcano Island” (192,692).  

Torkel Stål, a data analyst at the Swedish Film Institute, said the 2022 figures show a positive trend for local fare. “The admissions are spread among quite a lot of titles in different genres, which indicates that different audience segments have been reached. “

“It is also positive for the Swedish industry at large that not all admissions are concentrated on a single title,” he underlined. “In addition to the theatrical releases, Swedish movies continued to reach large audiences on streaming platforms, with titles like “Black Crab” on Netflix, “Day by Day” on C More and “Hilma” on Viaplay,” he said.

Looking ahead, Stål was upbeat, citing late 2022 releases “Håkan Bråkan,” “Long Live the Bonus Family,” the sci fi youth title “UFO Sweden” that showed strong legs well into 2023. 

Possible crowd pleasers among new local releases take in Karin af Klintberg’s documentary “The King” about the Swedish monarch Carl XVI Gustav; Mårten Klingberg’s  comedy “Second Act” starring Lena Olin and Rolf Lassgård; the Göteborg Film festival’s opener “Exodus” by Abbe Hassan; Andreas Öhman’s drama “One Day All This Will Be Yours,” and Anders Hazelius’s kids movie “Forever”. 

Top 10 Films in Sweden 2022

Ranking based on box office (title, distributor, admissions, gross, release date)
1 “Top Gun: Maverick,” UIP/Paramount, 732,163, $SEK115 million ($11.1 million), May 25

2 ”Avatar: The Way of Water,” Disney, 523,993, SEK84.4 million ($8.1 million), Dec. 14

3 “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” UIP/Universal, 654,079, SEK78.6 million ($7.6 million), Jul, 01

4 “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” SF/Sony, 403,003, SEK 60 million ($5.8 million), Dec 15

5 “The Batman,” Warner Bros, 331,482, SEK 53 million ($5.1 million), March, 03

6 “Where the Crawdads Sing,” SF/Sony, 375,569, SEK 48 million ($4.6 million), Aug. 19

7 “Thor: Love & Thunder,”Disney, 284,257, SEK 43 million ($4.1 million), July 06

8 “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Disney, 276,187, SEK41 million ($4.04 million), May, 04

9 “Jurassic World: Dominion,” UIP/Universal, 273,778, SEK40 million ($3.9 million), June 10

10 “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Disney, 215,692, SEK32 million ($3.1 million), Nov. 09

(Source Swedish Exhibitors Association, partly based on non-approved B.O. reports)

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