Afrikaans musical’s box office records


Released at the South African cinema circuit on 19 November, the new Afrikaans language musical, Liefling, had the best opening weekend of any Afrikaans film released since 1980.

Liefling was seen by more than 70 000 people countrywide during the weekend and made just under R2m. It was number one at 17 Ster-Kinekor theatres and at 12 NuMetro Theatres. Independent cinemas Woodlands, Mall at Reds and Zambesi also listed Liefling as their best-seller for the weekend.

Says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution. “At this rate Liefling is set to break the total takings of films like Orkney Snork Nie, Lipstiek Dipstiek and both Bakgat!  films in the next two weeks. If the film’s popularity holds, it will become the biggest Afrikaans language film of all time. As far as we know, no Afrikaans movie has ever earned this level of box office on its opening weekend. This holds true even if you measure the film on attendances, which is the more accurate reflection of its popularity than box office takings because of the higher ticket prices.’

Liefling earned 221% more than the sleeper hit Jakhalsdans, also distributed by Indigenous Film Distribution and released in April this year. “It has had 244% more attendances than Jakhalsdans. This is an excellent achievement as Jakhalsdans itself set a new record for Afrikaans films when it opened, with more than 20 000 cinemagoers seeing the film in its first weekend on circuit.’

In addition, Liefling has earned more on its opening weekend than both Susana van Biljon and Die Ongelooflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom earned during their total time on circuit in South Africa this year. It has superseded the phenomenal results achieved by Bakgat! 2 during its opening weekend in September by 47%.

The first Afrikaans musical to hit the big screen in more than 30 years, Liefling is a love story in the tradition of spectacular musicals such as Moulin Rouge, Mamma Mia! and High School Musical.

“The film has earned 89% more than Moulin Rouge and 7% more than Chicago on their respective opening weekends, and about two thirds the box office takings of Mamma Mia,’ says Kuun. “That makes it a phenomenon both in comparison with both Afrikaans language films and other films in the musical genre. It’s interesting to note that the film has also grossed double the amount earned by international hit Slumdog Millionaire in its weekend of release.’

Featuring an all-star cast and a soundtrack that includes the most well known Afrikaans songs from the 1970s to today, the film’s success illustrates the appeal of local stars like Bobby van Jaarsveld, Kurt Darren, Lika Berning and Marlee van der Merwe, as well as perennial favourites like Sonja Heroldt, Carike Keuzenkamp and Paul du Toit. The soundtrack is currently available from Coleske Artists at all leading retail outlets.

“We have had an excellent response to the film on social media sites too, with cinemagoers posting hundreds of positive comments and compliments on our Facebook page,’ says producer and director of photography Paul Kruger.

Kuun says it has been an excellent year for South African film and for boutique distributor Indigenous Film Distribution in particular. She lists Paradise Stop – from the winning team that was behind the hugely successful and critically acclaimed romantic comedy White Wedding, vampire movie Eternity, and the thriller Night Drive as forthcoming titles which will be released over the next four months.

“Liefling was the fifth film we released this year, following on from Jakhalsdans, a drama set in the Karoo; Leon Schuster’s comedy Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa; the slasher flick Unforgiving; and the Cape Town family drama Long Street.’


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