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How this disaster image can sell Norwegian fjords worldwide

The Norwegian movie The Wave is released in the US this week, and will soon hit theatres across the world. Even though it presents the Norwegian fjords in a … let’s say not so calm and peaceful light, there are still many who hope to see positive effects for tourism in the area.

“The best disaster movie in ages. Dear Hollywood, this is how it’s done,” exclaims The Daily Beast in its review of The Wave.

The website has 17 million monthly users, and is one of many American media outlets raving about the Norwegian movie (original title: “Bølgen”). The hype started when the film premiered at last years film festival in Toronto. This Friday, The Wave arrives in American cinemas and video on demand services.

In Norway, the film was a huge success. More than 800 000 people bought a ticket (from a population of just 5 million), and the director Roar Uthaug has been picked up by Hollywood to direct the next Tomb Raider flick.

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With sales to more than 135 countries, the movie should also be financially successful, despite a relatively high budget – by Norwegian standars.

However, many people in Western Norway were sceptical when they first heard about the film. The story is set in Geiranger, a small but very important tourist village in the western part of Norway. Since 2005, the Geirangerfjord area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Norway.

The movie tells the story on what happens when huge masses of rock tumbles into the fjord, setting off a massive, 300 foot tall tsunami.

That same The Daily Beast review opens like this (hopefully somewhat jokingly):

“The film the Norwegian tourism board can’t possibly want anyone to see, The Wave delivers the sort of expert disaster thrills that are sure to dissuade many from ever wanting to visit the picturesque county—or, at least, any of its small hamlets nestled between its imposing mountain ranges.”

“That being said, many of the locals changed from sceptisism to enthusiasm after the release of the movie in Norway,” says Jan Ove Tryggestad, mayor of Stranda municipality.

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“Technically, it’s a really good movie, and most of the locals now accept it for what it is. We were worried that the theme of the movie would scare people, but we have now decided to use it every way we can. We want to tell the world how important it is to have surveillance and contingency plans in case something like this were to happen in real life”, says Tryggestad.

He hopes that foreign movie lovers will become interested in the area, and says that the local tourist industry now are mildly excited about positive effects from the movie.

In 2015, Geiranger had 179 cruise ship arrivals, and 310 000 passengers went ashore. This year, this number is expected to rise.

Rita Berstad Maraak, who is head of Stranda harbour, think that The Wave will have a positive effect.

“I believe more tourists will come, both by ships and by road. The movie will probably make people curious about the area”, she says according to the loal newspaper Sunnmørsposten.

And, to be clear: if anything remotely similar was to happen for real, there would be ample time to evacuate. Not just ten minutes.

Here is the international trailer for «The Wave»:

 

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