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VILNIUS, LITHUANIA — An Eastern European gangster caper starring British actor Vinnie Jones has broken all time box office records in Lithuania, the country that produced it.
Redirected — which also features British television star Scot Williams — has taken $1.8 million and attracted nearly 300,000 viewers since its release mid-January in 11 cinemas in Vilnius and other cities in Lithuania, one of three former Soviet territories now part of the European Union.
The last film to take more than $1 million the territory was local language costume drama Tadas Blinda, three years ago. Both films have beaten previous records set by Hollywood movies such as Avatar and Ice Age 3.
Described by its producer as a “Guy Richie meets Quentin Tarantino in Eastern Europe” the $2.7 million film was shot on location in Lithuania and London.
With its mixture of violent hard men, luckless criminals, sexy girls, slapstick humor and pyrotechnics, the largely English-language film will be familiar viewing for fans of movies such as Richie’s 1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which launched the acting career of Jones, a former professional soccer player.
The movie, due for its international premiere later this year, is being positioned for UK, European and international distribution, through Los Angeles-based international sales agent Content Media.
Lithuania’s Cinema Cult Distribution, set up by the film’s producer, Norbertas Pranckus, and casting director, Donajas Simukauskas, will handle sales in the Baltics, Poland and Russia.
Pranckus owns Vytautas, Lithuania’s biggest mineral water business. The brand is being used to help promote the film through advertising and internet campaigns, including two humorous YouTube clips Eastern European Men’s School and Eastern European Women’s School featuring stereotypes of knuckle-headed blokes who know how to fight and beautiful blondes who can drive, talk on a mobile phone and apply make-up simultaneously.
Pranckus, whose mineral water company is among the sponsors of the currently running 19th Vilnius International Film Festival, said the promotional videos has been viewed more than a million times.
“This is the first ever international gangster film made in Lithuania and although the characters are stereotypes, it is a great advertisement for our country,” Pranckus told The Hollywood Reporter.
The film’s scriptwriter and director, Emilis Velyvis, said that Jones was pleasantly surprised by how civilized Lithuania was.
“He’d never been here before arriving for filming and was expecting something closer to Kazakhstan than a civilized European country,” he quipped.
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