EXCLUSIVE: HBO has put in development Headhunters, an hourlong project based on the best-selling 2008 book by Norwegian crime fiction author Jo Nesbø. Alexander Woo will write the adaptation and will executive produce with HBO-based producer Carolyn Strauss for Swedish production company Yellow Bird Entertainment, which owns the rights to the book, and Lionsgate Television. Headhunters is a dark comic thriller centered on a corporate headhunter who becomes the hunted when his life and marriage are suddenly targeted by an unknown individual. Yellow Bird, which first produced a hit Scandinavian film based on the novel, sold the English-language movie rights to the book to Summit Entertainment in 2011, shortly after the book was published in the U.S. The rights transitioned to Lionsgate following the company’s 2012 acquisition of Summit, with the project morphing into a TV series. Yellow Bird’s Marianne Gray and Berna Levin also executive produce. Another Nesbø novel, I Am Victor, was adapted by NBC last season, with the project going to pilot starring John Stamos. It barely missed the cut for a series pickup and went through redevelopment before recently getting a pass by NBC. UTA-repped Woo most recently was an executive producer on another book-based HBO drama, True Blood. He is currently a consulting producer on TNT’s Legends and is writing The Immortal Life Of …
EXCLUSIVE: Morten Tyldum, the Scandinavian director who made Headhunters, will helm The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who singlehandedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. Tyldul will take on the project for Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures, with Schwarzman producing along with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Moore will be exec producer.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after he made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being a homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple).
EXCLUSIVE: Sacha Gervasi has been set by Summit Entertainment to adapt Headhunters, the English language adaptation of the Jo Nesbo novel. Marianne Gray, Ole Sondberg, and Berna Levin will produce via the Yellow Bird production banner. Yellow Bird produced the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and is a producer of the upcoming Hollywood trilogy that begins with the David Fincher-directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Similarly, Headhunters was first made into a Norwegian film by director Morten Tyldum, with Yellow Bird among the producers. In the wake of the success by Larsson, the Norwegian author Nesbo’s crime thrillers have become big business. The book was published in the US by Doubleday and became a bestseller.
The novel is about a corporate headhunter steals valuable artwork from the homes of his applicants. After his latest heist goes awry, the headhunter finds himself in over his head and caught up in a murderous scheme. Erik Feig, Summit’s President of Production, Michael Schaefer, Summit’s Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, and Jeyun Choi, Summit’s Creative Executive, will oversee the project for the studio.
One of Nesbo’s other novels, The Snowman, has Martin Scorsese attached to potentially direct through Working Title. Gervasi, who’s attached to direct Alfred Hitchcock & The Making Of Psycho for Fox Searchlight and scripted The Terminal, Henry’s Crime and directed Anvil! The Story of Anvil, is repped by CAA and Management 360.
Morten Tyldum, whose Norwegian thriller Headhunters became the most successful title in Norway box office history this year, has signed on to helm Vendome Pictures’ futuristic thriller What Happened To Monday?, which will be the director’s first English-language project. Headhunters, based on Jo Nesbo’s bestselling crime novel, garnered plenty of buzz when it played in Cannes this year, and WME signed Tyldum during the festival; he also is repped by Anonymous Content. (Magnolia Pictures already has North American rights to Headhunters and has set a spring release date in the U.S.) What Happened To Monday?, with a Black List script by Max Botkin, revolves around identical septuplet brothers who struggle to stay hidden in an overpopulated world where a one-child policy dictates that siblings are against the law. Raffaella De Laurentiis via Raffaella Productions developed the project; it will produce alongside Vendome CEO Philippe Rousselet. Vendome committed to finance the project in December.
EXCLUSIVE: An American version of Norwegian bestselling crime author Jo Nesbo’s new TV series Occupied is being talked about. That’s what I’m told by Swedish producer Marianne Gray, who gave the keynote speech at the Film London Production Finance Market this morning. American actors and a U.S. director are also being considered for the 8-episode Norwegian TV series, which is awaiting a green light from state broadcaster NRK. Then there’s Nesbo’s novel Headhunters, which played at the BFI London Film Festival last night. The U.S. version is being adapted by Summit Entertainment as a $30M-40M movie and is now out to writers. Working Title is separately developing a feature film version of The Snowman, another bestseller by Nesbo whose books starring detective Harry Hole have sold 9 million copies worldwide.
There are parallels here to the way Hollywood has been got for Steig Larsson’s crime novels. Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which Yellow Bird made into a feature film, has been remade by Sony and David Fincher. The Swedish version has grossed $104 million worldwide — $10 million of that in the U.S. alone, which is almost unheard of for a subtitled film. The Stockholm-based Yellow Bird also made TV versions of the other two books and Music Box released them as feature films. Then there’s the original Swedish TV version of local detective Wallander, which the BBC has remade starring Kenneth Branagh. Yellow Bird co-produced the UK version with Left Bank Pictures too. Its own $5 million feature-film adaptation of Nesbo’s Headhunters, about a thieving corporate headhunter who steals a client’s valuable painting, has been picked up by Magnolia for U.S. release later this year. Gray revealed that Nesbo may write a sequel to his original Headhunters novel. Occupied is set in the near future: Russia has invaded Norway’s oil fields and the country is under occupation.
Summit Entertainment has acquired English-language movie rights to the international bestselling crime thriller Headhunters, by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. The novel, recently published in the U.S. by Doubleday and a New York Times bestseller, chronicles the escapades of a high-living corporate headhunter who steals artwork from his rich clients to finance his expensive lifestyle. When a heist unexpectedly goes south, he discovers he’s in way over his head in a murderous scheme. Nesbø’s eight crime novels featuring Detective Harry Hole have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Erik Feig, Summit’s president of production, acquisitions SVP Michael Schaefer, and creative executive Jeyun Choi will oversee the project for the studio. Marianne Gray, Ole Sondberg, and Berna Levin are aboard as producers via Swedish production company Yellow Bird. Summit acquired the English-language rights from Yellow Bird, which already produced a hit Scandinavian film based on the novel.