Mike Fleming

BREAKING: For the second time this Berlinale, Magnolia Pictures has bagged U.S. rights to a NordiskTrust film from a sizzle reel. Magnolia has secured the Norwegian thriller Pioneer, which is being produced by Christian Fredrik Martin from Friland Film, the team behind Morten Tyldum’s 2011 sleeper Headhunters, which Magnolia also released. The deal comes right after Magnolia wrapped up a deal for Lars von Trier’s provocative film Nymphomaniac.

The Pioneer deal was negotiated between Magnolia’s Dori Begley and Peter van Steemburg and TrustNordisk’s Rikke Ennis and Susan Wendt. Directed by Erik Skjoldbærg, the film stars Aksel Hennie, Wes Bentley and Stephen Lang in a high-octane conspiracy thriller inspired by 70s classics The Conversation, Three Days Of The Condor and Chinatown. The director helmed Insomnia. Miss Bala‘s Stephanie Sigman, Jonathan LaPaglia, Andre Eriksen, Jørgen Langhelle, Ane Dahl Torp, Eirik Stubø and David A. Jørgensen are also in the cast.

Set in the early ’80s at the onset of the Norwegian Oil Rush, Pioneer takes place at a time when enormous oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea and authorities aim to bring it ashore through a pipeline running at depths of 500 meters. Professional diver Petter is obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea and has the discipline, strength and courage to take on the world’s most dangerous job. But a sudden, tragic accident changes everything, and Petter is sent on a perilous journey where he loses sight of who’s pulling which strings. Gradually he realizes that he is in way over his head and that his life is at stake.

“After the excellent reception to Headhunters in the U.S., we’re very excited to be working with the producers and Aksel Hennie again on Pioneer, which is shaping up to be a terrific thriller,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. The film is budgeted at 6.5 million Euros and will be released in the fall, with Nordisk distributing in Scandinavia and TrustNordisk handling international sales.

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