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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Snabba Cash

‘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.

The Norwegians are coming! (and the Swedes too)

November 2, 2010 |  2:21 pm


Hollywood has absorbed a wave of directors from Britain, and welcomed genre auteurs from Spain and Mexico. But perhaps no foreign influx in recent years is coming as fast and as furious as the Scandinavian invasion.

Most filmgoers are familiar with the influence of the Millennium Trilogy -- the three Swedish-language films based on Stieg Larsson's books, as well as David Fincher's upcoming remake of the first movie, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." Turns out it's only the beginning. As we explore in a print article in Tuesday's Times, a group of film types on both sides of the Atlantic are bringing actors, directors and, of course, remakes to these shores.

Monday night, we caught up with a monster mockumentary called "The Troll Hunter" from a Norwegian up-and-comer named Andre Ovredal that's essentially "The Blair Witch Project" meets "Men in Black" meets "The Host." (Really.) After a successful run at Fantastic Fest, the movie is set to come out in the U.S. next year. Universal owns remake rights, so don't be surprised if that happens too.

Meanwhile, Hollywood powerhouses such as United Talent Agency have signed nearly the entire cast of movies such as the Swedish crime drama "Snabba Cash," as well as the film's director, and deployed them in a host of big American movies. (The film's director, Daniel Espinosa, is directing the Denzel Washington thriller "Safe House.") "Snabba" itself will be released stateside next year and is getting remade by Warner Bros. with Zac Efron playing the title character (an ordinary 20-something who leads a double life as a cocaine runner).

Meanwhile, John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of the novel on which vampire hit "Let the Right One In" was based (itself remade as the Chloe Moretz movie "Let Me In"), has another book; this one is about zombies and is called "Handling the Undead." The rights will soon be shopped to U.S. studios.

And when it comes to actors, there's the queen of the Swedish invasion -- Noomi Rapace, the original girl with the dragon tattoo. She's in "Sherlock Holmes 2" and is being mentioned for seemingly every other big role in Hollywood.

All this is happening because Hollywood is looking for new places to mine talent -- but also because there's a feeling that, if remakes are going to happen, they may as well be sourced from a place with some filmmaking chops. That Scandinavia has its wealth of English-speaking actors and directors -- and a dark sensibility that Americans are coming around to -- doesn't hurt either. Bring a surfboard: This wave could be here for a while.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: A scene from "The Troll Hunter." Credit: Magnolia Pictures


Swedish mafia makes headway in Hollywood

Studios seek to snag Swedish sizzler

Zac Efron, Jackie Kennedy and a Swedish phenomenon get linked




Zac Efron, Jackie Kennedy and a Swedish phenomenon get linked

September 30, 2010 |  5:19 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Two of the hotter Hollywood stories of 2010, at least on the creative side, are coming together.

"Snabba Cash," the Zac Efron-starring remake of the Swedish crime drama that we told you about last March, is getting a writer with some significant buzz of his own. The scribe in question: Noah Oppenheim, who's coming on to write the script for the Warner Bros. film project.

Oppenheim is the former producer of "Today" who received Steven Spielberg's seal of approval when the A-lister expressed interest in producing Oppenheim's original story about Jackie Kennedy and her life in the days after the JFK assassination.

Rachel Weisz is now attached to star and Darren Aronofsky to direct that first lady tale, "Jackie," which should give Oppenheim plenty of heat on his own.

The addition of a writer to the English-language "Snabba Cash" is good news for fans of Daniel Espinosa's original, as well as devotees of arty Swedish genre tales (and thanks to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," there are plenty). But mostly it's good news for anyone who wants to see Efron play a coke runner, because it means we're now one step closer to that once-impossible dream.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Zac Efron at the Australian premiere of 'Charlie St. Cloud.' Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.


Studios seek to snag Swedish sizzler 'Snabba'

A Jackie Kennedy movie, courtesy of Steven Spielberg

Zac Efron's halting reinvention

Swedish spitfire Espinosa could seek safety in South America

April 29, 2010 | 12:45 pm

EXCLUSIVE:  One of the hottest scripts in Hollywood right now is "Safe House," which as we told you about back in February is one of the few priority films at a studio that's not a remake or brand adaptation, thank the heavens. It's a movie from a young writer named David Guggenheim about a U.S. intelligence agent and his prisoner, who are forced to seek refuge in safe houses across South America -- a kind of "Bourne Identity" by way of "Collateral."

Snabba Now Universal and producer Scott Stuber are closing in on a director to bring Guggenheim's vision to the screen. Three filmmakers are among the finalists --  "Buried" director Rodridgo Cortes, "The "Losers" director Sylvain White and Daniel Espinosa, the Swedish auteur who created a stir with his noir "Snabba Cash." Espinosa, we're told, is poised to get the gig, as the parties are set to try to hammer out a deal.

Espinosa was signed by Hollywood managers and agents after his film drummed up interest at the Berlin Film Festival (the remake rights were subsequently picked up by Warner Bros. as a Zac Efron producing/starring vehicle). The Swedish director seems like a perfect choice, if only because a dark but accessible vision, as he flashed in "Snabba," is exactly what material like "Safe House" needs if Hollywood is going to create some new franchises instead of dining out endlessly on the old ones.

But the larger story here is how producers are now willing to look outside -- both English-speaking countries and traditional channels -- for filmmakers who can direct their hot scripts, even the broadly commercial ones. You can try to get an old-timey A-lister, spend a lot of money and then find out he's not available when you're ready to shoot. Or you can bring in a fresh voice inexpensively and shoot as soon as you're ready.

-- Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: Poster for "Snabba Cash." Credit: Tre Vanner Productions.

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