Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have been busy at home and abroad since their seafaring third feature scored an Oscar nomination last year. They are currently half-way through post on Beatles, a 1960s Oslo-set coming-of-age story that they’re producing and which releases in Norway on August 29th. The pair will next shoot miniseries Marco Polo for The Weinstein Co with a Netflix debut set for late 2014. Rønning tells me he and Sandberg will shoot Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, their first big studio feature, in Puerto Rico and New Orleans at the end of the year. After that, they’re in the process of lining up a more intimate project as their potential post-Pirates gig. The pair has acquired U.S. remake rights to Amnesia, a Norwegian thriller by second-time helmer Nini Bull Robsahm which was released locally on January 10th. The story centers on writers Thomas and Kathrine who spend a weekend on a remote island. After a fight in which Thomas hits his head and loses his memory, Kathrine sees an opportunity to escape the violent relationship. Rønning says, “If you’re examining the projects we’re directing this year, it’s tempting for us to also look for more intimate stories to tell — with graspable budgets.” He calls Amnesia, “a brilliant story with an original concept and a strong emotional core. It’s …
EXCLUSIVE: As Deadline Hollywood predicted last month, the Kon-Tiki directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have landed the job directing Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. Disney, Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have all signed off on the choice, and negotiations are underway on a deal that will make quickly. The duo will come aboard to prep the massive movie for a late year or early January start.
The studio is getting the script ship-shape, and they are bullish after getting a rewrite from Jeff Nathanson. This is an enormous coup for the Norwegian directing team who just fell out of the Legendary Pictures film Spectral. I’d written recently about Disney’s short list, and the fact these guys were atop it. Fredrik Bond, who helmed The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman, was also on the list as was Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders.
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.