The Nordic invasion has more conquests lined up.
With the news just breaking that Tom Hanks will produce and star in a Hollywood remake of the lauded Swedish-language movie A Man Called Ove, our attention is once again turned northwards. Scandinavia has been inspiring Hollywood since the days of Ingmar Bergman and Wes Craven, but in the last few years, we’ve been witnessing an intensification of the rate at which Nordic projects are being reworked for English-speaking audiences.
Feature films like Let Me In, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Contraband, and Prince Avalanche and TV shows such as Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge, Those Who Kill, and Humans would never exist without the wildly popular Scandinavian originals preceding them. While these English-language remakes haven’t always received the same critical acclaim as their Norse counterparts, their very existence is testament to the fact that Scandinavia remains a rich picking ground for English-speaking creatives.
Aside from new original English-language material from Scandinavia like Borg/McEnroe, Nordic novels have proved especially popular as adaptation materials amongst Hollywood screenwriters. Norwegian crime fiction giant Jo Nesbø, for instance, can look forward to seeing at least three more adaptations of his novels on the big screen in addition to this year’s The Snowman, including one set to be directed by Tobey Maguire.
Perhaps the most obvious indicator of Scandinavia’s hold on Hollywood are all the remakes of Nordic originals in the works. This fast-growing trend demonstrates serious international appreciation of Nordic creative work and a keen desire to make Scandinavia’s plethora of universally relevant stories more accessible to English-speaking audiences.
What better way to celebrate Tom Hanks jumping on the bandwagon as a grumpy, suicidal old man in A Man Called Ove than to take a look at some of these other upcoming Scandi-to-English remakes?
The 100 Year-Old Man
Last month, Variety reported that Will Ferrell is to produce and star in The 100-Year-Old Man, Hollywood’s version of a 2013 Swedish film with the rather fuller title of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The latter movie and the Jonas Jonasson book that it was based on are absurdist comedies, making this project classic Ferrell material. The story revolves around Allan, a grumpy centenarian who escapes from his nursing home on the day he turns the big 1-0-0. A mix-up with a suitcase in a bus station sets in motion a wild goose chase as gangsters hunt down Allan (who has their bag full of money). Along the way, a Forrest Gump-esque series of flashbacks illustrates Allan’s explosive past: a dynamite expert in his youth, he took part in the Spanish Civil War and crossed paths and dance floors with the likes of Reagan, Stalin, and Oppenheimer.
The Swedish feature traverses the 20th century without ever using another actor for the role of young Allan, a bold move that earned their hair & makeup team an Oscar nod. If the appearance of Robert Gustafsson, the actor who plays Allan and is often referred to as the “funniest man in Sweden,” is anything to go by, we can expect Ferrell to have to don a lot of wigs and prosthetic jowls for this role. He’s got the comedy skills to pull it off.
The Imitation Game’s Scandinavian director, Morten Tyldum, got his breakthrough with Headhunters, a “solidly entertaining heist thriller” from Norway that starred a pre-Game of Thrones Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. With Deadline reporting that Tyldum wants to make an English-language edition of the movie, it looks like things are coming full circle for the project and its original director.
As FSR’s own Rob Hunter wrote in 2013, the rights to the story were previously held by Summit, who hired Sacha Gervasi to helm an English-language feature version of the story. Mark Wahlberg was apparently keen on making this project a starring vehicle of his, indicating a growing interest in Scandinavian remakes for the actor who had just headlined Contraband at the time, itself a remake of the Icelandic Reykjavík-Rotterdam. When Lionsgate acquired Summit, though, plans switched, and a TV show was announced.
As Rob points out, a TV remake of Headhunters was not a good idea, so it’s good news for everybody that it never worked out and that Tyldum is back on the scene and considering returning it to a feature. With the search for a writer still underway, specifics are still lacking, but with this undoubtedly being something of a passion project for Tyldum, we can expect more development once his busy schedule clears a little.
Hollywood’s first association with Sweden’s Easy Money (original titled Snabba Cash) came in 2010, when Zac Efron was attached to star in and produce a remake of the hit crime thriller.
The production was seemingly consigned to limbo status at Warner Bros. for years, though, until The Hollywood Reporter revealed new plans for an English-language version from a Swedish production company. Although it remains “in development” according to IMDb, this is a project we should be praying survives, given the attachment of 10 Cloverfield Lane scribes Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken.
The duo are also down to pen another English-language Scandi production, Horizon Line, demonstrating their interest in and commitment to Nordic stories. When Deadline reported on Horizon Line last year, they re-iterated Campbell and Stuecken’s attachment to Easy Money, so it looks like the latter project is still progressing, if a little slowly.
Borgen and More TV Projects
Alongside the above projects, some hit Nordic TV shows are also in the remake pipeline.
From Iceland, there is Infamous, an NBC legal procedural in the works based on Réttur; dramedy World’s End, which will star Hamish Linklater and Wanda Sykes and be helmed by Alan Poul; and a Weinstein Co. production of Trapped, a thrilling ten-parter from Everest director Baltasar Kormákur.
Danish hit Borgen is waiting to be developed by HBO, who are apparently interested in putting a definitively American spin on the political drama that launched Sidse Babett Knudsen, Pilou Asbæk and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen’s international careers. The show tells the rocky (fictional) story of Denmark’s first woman Prime Minister. It’s nothing like HBO’s similarly-themed Veep, though; Borgen is like a sleeker The West Wing that lacks Veep’s comedy but makes up for it in spades with its drama, which Stephen King described as “top-flight”.
Given the election results, it’s possible that a US remake of Borgen would be set in something like an alternate American timeline, although if too much is made of the topical link, viewers weary of hearing about Hillary Clinton may be switched off.
Unfortunately, no news has been forthcoming on this remake since 2015, when Indiewire published this. It would be crazy not to take the project further, though, given that Borgen is one of a trio of Nordic exports that took the world by storm and kicked off the current wave of remakes (the already remade Forbrydelsen and Bron/Broen being the other two). Let’s hope HBO keeps the ball rolling on this project, which would be a welcome thrilling addition to its roster of prestige shows.
Also announced but slow to develop are a Fox remake of Norwegian TV comedy Next Summer, which was originally linked to Family Guy writers Aaron Matthew Lee and Julius Sharpe. Fox are also sitting on the rights for thriller series Mammon, to be executive produced by New Girl EP Katherine Pope.
Lastly, a Doug Liman-produced version of Denmark’s family drama series The Legacy is waiting to be made. The Edge of Tomorrow director currently has his plate full, but he is reportedly very keen to make the event series because of its familiar and relatable “extraordinary characters.”