Here in America, our box office returns show that we're awash in aliens, predators, chipmunks, secrets and a self-made legend, but Swedish cinema lovers supported one of their own when it opened on Christmas Day. Variety reports that Arn: The Knight Templar has earned a robust $2.2 million in its first two days of release. That breaks down to a per-screen average of $10,821 at 207 engagements and is the "biggest opening ever" for a Swedish film in its homeland.

As I reported in August, Arn is the most expensive film and TV project ever made in Scandanavia, budgeted at $30 million to adapt the trilogy by Jan Guillou into two movies and a TV series. The books revolve around a fictional character forced into service as a Knight Templar during the Crusades. Variety says that local reviews "ranged from positive to negative with the majority falling somewhere in-between," but producer Valdemar Bergendahl gave the mixed reaction a positive spin: "It was expected. But I'm happy with all the copy that has been written about the film. It has shown what great interest there is in it." There's a good producer for you: any news is good news!

Arn will expand from Sweden and Norway into Denmark and Finland in the next two months, with the second feature film scheduled for release next fall. In the meantime, an international version will be stitched together from the two features; already it's been sold in 10 territories. With a cast that includes Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves), Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding), Vincent Perez (Queen Margot), Bibi Andersson (Persona), Simon Callow (A Room with a View) and Michael Nyqvist (Next Door), we'll wait to see if any US festivals or distributors display an interest.