Following the premiere in Tallinn on April 11, "Melchior the Apothecary," based on the medieval crime bestseller by Indrek Hargla, hit theaters across Estonia last Friday, April 15. In the week since its premiere, nearly 30,000 people have gone to see the first installment of the Melchior trilogy, the latter two of which are likewise scheduled for release later this year.
A total of 29,642 people went to see "Melchior the Apothecary," making it the most successful opening week for a domestic film in Estonia since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
According to producer Tanel Tatter, "Melchior's" initial box office numbers suggest that for the first time in some time, an Estonian movie can be projected to reach 100,000 viewers again.
"'O2,' the most successful domestic film in recent years, drew more than 15,000 viewers to theaters over its opening weekend," Tatter said. "Second place goes to 'Soo,' which nearly 14,000 people went to see during its opening weekend. The viewing audience 'Melchior the Apothecary' was twice that."
The only movie to see greater success during the pandemic was Christopher Nolan's Hollywood thriller "Tenet," which set an all-time Estonian opening weekend box office record of 53,000. Several scenes in "Tenet" were filmed in Estonia in summer 2019, including at Tallinn's Linnahall and on Laagna tee, a major thoroughfare in Tallinn's Lasnamäe District that required significant road closures.
Based on current projections, "Melchior the Apothecary" may be the first domestic film screened since the beginning of the pandemic to draw 100,000 viewers to theaters. Prior to the pandemic, other movies to manage the same feat included "Truth and Justice," "1944," "The Little Comrade," "Names in Marble" and "Sipsik."
Thus far, no other domestic film has yet to reach these results; the current pandemic-era record is held by "O2," which drew a total of 75,000 viewers to theaters.
"Melchior the Apothecary" premiered in Finnish theaters on Thursday as well.
Movie costumes on display at Narva Castle
A "Melchior the Apothecary" movie costume exhibition opened at Narva Castle on Monday, one of the locations where filming of the trilogy took place. The opening was followed by the Ida-Viru County premiere of the movie at Apollo Cinema Astri.
In attendance at both events were director Elmo Nüganen, actor Franz Malmsten, producer Tanel Tatter, costume designer Mari-Liis Bunder and Viru Film Fund representative Piia Tamm.
The movie costume exhibition will remain open at Narva Castle through September 4.
For the first time in Estonian movie history, an entire trilogy of films will premiere within a single calendar year.
While release of the first film in the Melchior trilogy was delayed, the second installment is scheduled for release on August 19, and the third and final movie is slated to hit theaters on October 14.
When a murderer is loose in town, the town is sick. It's time to call the apothecary.
Melchior Wakenstede is a clever and curious apothecary who, in addition to healing the sick, solves murders that shake the town. In a medieval world, where people look for signs of God or the Devil in everything, Melchior's detective work appears to be truly magical. Melchior has a knack for noticing traitorous details and understands the darkest desires of the human soul. He knows, better than anyone else, that sin is waiting at the door, and temptation can poison even the most noble of intentions.
Directed by Elmo Nüganen, with screenplay by Indrek Hargla, Elmo Nüganen and Olle Mirme. Based on the novels of Indrek Hargla.
Click here to watch the trailer for "Melchior the Apothecary" (trailer in Estonian with English and Russian subtitles).
Editor: Aili Vahtla