EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has abruptly halted an imminent production start on an untitled Alexander Payne-directed drama that was to star Mads Mikkelsen. Sources said filming was set to begin next week, until a rights issue brought the whole thing to a screeching halt.
I’m trying to get to the bottom of this — sounds like somebody dropped the ball, to get this close to a production start without fully executed underlying rights deal — but I’ve heard that the subject of the film, Norwegian journalist/author Karl Ove Knausgard, was left with an “out” and had a change of heart about having his story turned into a feature. Attempts were made to pull the film back on track, to no avail.
When Deadline broke the story last month as Netflix prevailed over several rival bids from distributors, Mikkelsen was set to be the center of a father-daughter story about the journalist who takes a road trip with his teenager across the U.S. as he writes a story for a newspaper.
The film was to shoot this month in Sweden, Denmark and the U.S. The script was written by Erlend Loe (Nord). It will be produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Productions and Lizette Jonjic of Zentropa Productions.
Waiting to get more specific details on why the film went sideways, but it removes what was expected to be a 2020 awards-season film from the Netflix slate. Payne has won two Oscars, for writing The Descendants and Sideways (both of which he also directed), and he has been a critical favorite since launching his career on Citizen Ruth followed by the Oscar-nominated Election, which has established itself as something of a cult classic. His other films include Downsizing, About Schmidt and Nebraska.