A AMSTERDAM Dangling out there halfway between Europe and the U.S., Iceland has the highest per capita rate of film-going in the world, but at the same time, the territory with a population of less than 300,000 is overscreened. Despite "Titanic," admissions dropped 2% in 1998, compounding the problem.
Sam Film, the largest exhibber in the territory, has begun renovation of its own chain, installing THX and stadium seating in its 25-year-old Keflavik cinema.
"We reopened in December and since then we've more than doubled admissions year on year," says Thor Arnason, general manager for the theater chain.
Sam, which has so many studio deals tied up that Iceland often gets firstrun movies and premieres before the European continent, also is working on its distribution strategy.
"Since we're overscreened in Reyjavik, we're trying to help the other villages in Iceland upgrade and to get them prints a bit earlier than previously."
The market, however, remains competitive, with Sam battling it out with Haskolabia and Skivan for visitors.
Skivan's Bjorn Sigursson, manager of theatrical distribution for the plexer, predicts consolidation in the future, adding "When the shakeout is over, we want to be among the players left standing."
ICELAND Box office: $10.5 million Admissions: 1.3 million Screens: 31 Sites: 10 MAIN EXHIBITORS SCREENS SITES Sam Film 13 4 Haskolabia 5 1 Skifan 4 1
Source: Sam Film3