The mercury bubbling around Scandinavian projects these days just won’t seem to quit, and a heat center in the past few weeks has been sales outfit TrustNordisk. The company had a busy Berlin market, concluding U.S. deals with Magnolia Pictures on three films: Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, and Norwegian titles Pioneer and Ragnarok. Yet another project, The Keeper Of Lost Causes, drove myriad overseas deals and domestic interest. Currently in post-production, the film is the first in a planned franchise of adaptations of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s bestselling Department Q book series. Based on a promo reel, several foreign deals were locked for not only the first movie, but also for its three upcoming sequels. The 5M euros Danish-language movies focus on the books’ once-great chief detective who’s been banished to a basement office to run cold case division, Department Q.
Oscar-nominated A Royal Affair director Nikolaj Arcel, who co-wrote the original transfer of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is adapting the books. Mikkel Nørgaard (Klown) directs stars Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Angels & Demons) and Fares Fares (Zero Dark Thirty) who are aboard for the full series. Lost Causes has a local October 3 release, but is eyeing the fall festival circuit ahead of that.
The plan, TrustNordisk’s Susan Wendt tells me, is to shoot one film a year with the second in the series, The Absent One, due to go before the cameras in September. (Buyers will peruse an English-language version of the script for Cannes.) The films mark a sort of departure for producer Zentropa, of which TrustNordisk is the sales arm. Output has largely been films of the von Trier ilk, but this is the first time Zentropa is producing “the more kind of mainstream crime thing,” notes Wendt.
She says there is “A lot of interest for a remake and also for adapting the books into English-language films.” As for selling U.S. rights to the original films, Wendt says offers are expected over the next weeks, but whether she’ll close or wait for the finished product, “really depends on what the offer is because we expect a lot from this film once it’s ready.” She suggests that interest is also high because, “Everything that was foreign language earlier on was seen as art house, but after the Millennium trilogy, you’ve seen the eyes opened up in all English-language territories.”
Berlin was very important for moving the slate forward this year, says Wendt, and the usefulness of the sizzle reel couldn’t be overstated. “We started a tradition about five years ago to do a promo screening of selected titles from the slate where we feel either they need the hype or where we expect a promo without a script can do a lot of pre-sales. And it’s been proven more and more.”
At the EFM, Lost Causes deals closed in the UK (Arrow Films), Australia and New Zealand (Madman) and Czech Republic (Aerofilms). Rights to all four films were taken in Poland (Kino Swiat), Russia (Silverbox) and China (HGC Entertainment). And, all four films were previously sold to Switzerland (Frenetic), Benelux (Lumiere) and Germany and Austria (NFP).
Louise Vesth is producing for Zentropa Entertainments20. Co-producers are Zentropa Entertainments Berlin and ZDF Enterprises with the support of national and regional funds and pre-sales.