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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Safe House

‘Safe House’ director’s prior film coming to theaters July 27

February 22, 2012 |  6:16 pm


Earlier this week, we wrote that "Snabba Cash," the previous film from “Safe House” director Daniel Espinosa, was languishing undated at the Weinstein Co. after being acquired nearly two years ago.

On Wednesday, the Weinstein Co. said it has now dated the movie, which is based on a novel from Swedish author Jens Lapidus, and would bring it out in limited release on July 27 under the name “Easy Money” (the English translation of “Snabba Cash”).

In an interview, Harvey Weinstein said the delay was a result of an English translation of Lapidus’ book not hitting these shores until now. The novel will come out in the U.S. in April from Random House imprint Pantheon, prompting Weinstein to release the film as well.

“We love the movie, but we needed the book to be out here,” Weinstein said, noting that the success of the novel “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the two Stieg Larsson books that followed powered the trio of Swedish-language movies to American art-house success.

“Easy Money,” which stars Joel Kinnaman ("The Killing") as a Stockholm taxi driver who becomes enmeshed in a drug-running operation, had gone to the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 for what was presumably the first step in a commercial rollout. Then it mysteriously disappeared.

Weinstein said in the interview that he had brought the movie to that festival because he thought the book’s publication was imminent. “We were getting mixed messages on the publishing,” he said.

The company will also now be able to market “Easy Money” as the previous film from the director of “Safe House,” the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds thriller that in nearly two weeks of release has become one of the highest-grossing films of 2012.

“Audiences that see ‘Safe House’ don’t necessarily go to  see a Scandinavian-subtitled movie,” Weinstein said. “But we still feel the movie could do well for a foreign-language picture. It could make four or five million dollars.”


Is 'Safe House' director's previous film locked away?

Box office: 'Safe House' surprises

Swedish spitfire Espinosa could seek safety in South America


— Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Snabba Cash." Credit: Tre Vanner Prods.


Is ‘Safe House’ director’s previous film locked away?

February 20, 2012 |  7:42 pm

Snabba Cash

For the last two weekends, U.S. moviegoers have been enamored of “Safe House,” the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action thriller directed by an up-and-coming Swedish filmmaker named Daniel Espinosa. Film fans gave the picture an A- CinemaScore and catapulted it to the No. 1 spot at the box office this past weekend.

But Americans curious to check out Espinosa’s previous movie may find themselves scrambling harder than Washington’s Tobin Frost. Although U.S. rights to the film, “Snabba Cash,” have been owned by the Weinstein Company for nearly two years, the movie has no release date and appears to be languishing on the shelf.

Premiering at Berlin two years ago this month, the Swedish-language crime drama (its title translates as “Easy Money”) tells the story of a young cab driver (Joel Kinnaman of “The Killing”) who gets  involved in the world of Stockholm drug running.  As he sinks into the underworld, he becomes entangled with a Chilean ex-con who's savvy about the drug trade and a hit man who carries out kills for a Central European mafia boss.

The dark Bildungsroman, which is based on a bestselling Swedish novel and was a hit upon its release in Sweden, created a sensation at the Berlinale. The Weinstein Company soon acquired domestic rights, while Warner Bros. picked up remake rights with the aim of turning it into a starring and producing vehicle for Zac Efron. The film also tapped into the general vogue for Scandinavian stories, one that's powered "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" franchise and others.

The Weinstein Company then brought its new pickup to the Toronto Film Festival in September 2010, presumably to prime the pump for a commercial rollout. But the movie was mysteriously never dated for release. 

Asked whether the success of “Safe House” could prompt that to change—the film, after all, could now be marketed as coming from the director of “Safe House”—a spokeswoman for the Weinstein Company said the release date was still "tbd.”

A source close to “Snabba Cash” who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk about the film publicly said he didn’t believe the Weinstein Company had any concrete plans at this point to release the movie and that producers may yet seek to extricate rights. For now, though, American viewers are out of luck; the film is not available on DVD or on any other platform in the U.S.

For his part, Espinosa deflected any concern. He told my colleague John Horn that with a second movie in the Swedish-language “Snabba” trilogy already shot (Espinosa is serving as a producer on that one) and a third set to begin production later this year, he believed the Weinstein Company was waiting so they can acquire the other two movies and bring the trio out as a series.

Box office: 'Safe House' surprises

Swedish spitfire Espinosa could seek sanctuary in South America

The Norwegians are coming (and the Swedes too)

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Snabba Cash." Credit: Tre Vanner Prods.

'Safe House': Universal looks for vivid visuals from Espinosa [video]

February 9, 2012 |  2:50 pm

Daniel Espinosa
Star Denzel Washington, who plays opposite Ryan Reynolds, thought it was a little odd that Swedish director Daniel Espinosa wanted to put his "Safe House" cameras behind his actors' heads, rather than in front of them. Producer Universal Studios was a bit taken aback when they saw the first batch of footage from the film's South Africa set, but eventually calmed down.

But the very things that give "Safe House" its unusual look are what separate the CIA thriller from any number of action movies. Even though the film is likely to lose to "The Vow" at the weekend box office, "Safe House" marks a notable arrival of a new filmmaker.

This week, John Horn profiles the young filmmaker, and in this video talks about his distinctive style:

-- John Horn


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