EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures and Norwegian Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have parted company on Spectral, a big project they signed on to direct in January with much fanfare. It was their first studio deal, made around the time their pic was creating Oscar buzz for Best Foreign Language film. The duo had been signed to a holding deal with the intention of making this film next. That deal ended, and apparently Legendary wanted to move forward and the helmers felt the script needed more seasoning and a longer development track. The script, based on a treatment by Ian Fried and with a most recent script draft by Jayson Rothwell, is described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down and it is viewed as a potential franchise. The helmers will move on to other projects, and Legendary will look to lock in a new director to get the project to the start line later this year.
Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg drew keen attention from Hollywood in the wake of their Oscar-nominated sea-faring adventure Kon-Tiki, pacting with Legendary Pictures on supernatural project Spectral and becoming involved with a sci-fi period piece at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. Closer to home for the duo is Beatles, a passion project they’ve been working on for years and which has just scored the rare feat of securing rights to original recordings of the Fab Four.
Based on the best-selling book by Norwegian author Lars Saabye Christensen, which was first published in 1984, the 1960s-set coming-of-age story follows four teenage boys living in Oslo during Beatlemania. “It’s a book we grew up with,” Rønning tells me. “For us it’s like the first movie about the first youth generation that didn’t automatically do the same jobs as their fathers and mothers. It’s the first rebellion, especially in Europe and Scandinavia.” The duo, along with producer Jørgen Storm Rosenberg, acquired movie rights from Christensen in 2009, but the parties were steadfast that a film would never happen unless they got the rights for the tunes. Speaking from Norway this morning, Rønning beamed, “And now we have them and it’s amazing!”
EXCLUSIVE: Norwegian helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, whose film Kon-Tiki was Oscar nominated today for Best Foreign Language Film, are near a deal to make their first big splashy Hollywood helming deal. They are signing a 7-figure pact to direct Spectral for Legendary Pictures. The script, based on a treatment by Ian Fried and with a most recent script draft by Jayson Rothwell, is described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down and it is viewed as a potential franchise.
Roenning and Sandberg have been meeting with and being offered projects by studios since Kon-Tiki began playing in Norway and then made its festival debut at Toronto in September. The film tells the harrowing tale of Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 journey, drifting 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa raft with a small crew to Polynesia to prove South Americans were its original settlers. Shot on the high seas for $15 million (making it the most expensive Norwegian film ever), Kon-Tiki looks like it was significantly more expensive, showing the potential of directors who can get bang for their buck on logistically complicated studio-level action adventure fare.