Next film to be completely Norwegian

COPENHAGEN — After 30 years, the first fully Norwegian Olsen gang movie will go into production June 11.

A total of 15 Norwegian thriller-comedies about Egon Olsen and his friends have been made — and have been seen by more than 6 million Norwegians — but all are at least partly remakes of the Danish franchise developed by Erik Balling and Henning Bahs for Nordisk Film.

The Danish remakes include the latest Norwegian Olsen gang pic, “The Olsen Gang Jr. Under Water,” from Norwegian director Arne Lindtner Naess.

But, there is no Danish original for the new $2.6 million production.

“Last time we used about 20 percent Danish material, but the next, ‘The Olsen Gang Jr. in the Air,’ will be completely Norwegian,” producer Rune Trondsen of Norway’s Nordisk Film Production, tells Variety.

The second installment in the series on the young Olsen will also be directed by Lindtner Naess, with the same cast of children. It is set for a Feb. 6, 2004, premiere.

Released by Columbia TriStar Nordisk Film with 49 prints, “The Olsen Gang Jr. Under Water” — which catches up with Egon Olsen when he is still at a children’s home — boasts 250,000 admissions within four weeks. That total is “unprecedented to us, for a kidpic,” says managing director Bjorn Hoenvoll.

The new film is set in 1960, as Norwegian pubcaster NRK launches a competition for young musicians. Egon Olsen and his friends start a rock group, the Dynamites, which is conned by a local promoter who promises them a U.S. career in exchange for the prize money.

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