Warners sets remake of pic based on Scandi crime novel

Stockholm, Sweden– Snabba Cashproducer Fredrik Wikstrom never expected to taste international success so early in his career.

Six years out of film school, the 32-year-old Wikstrom has always worked at Stockholm’s Tre Vanner Produktion, a company that makes TV drama series and action movies, including adaptations of popular Swedish crime series “Wallander.”

Tuned into Sweden’s vibrant crime novel market — in a nation of low crime and long winters, reading is a voracious habit for those seeking vicarious thrills — the company had picked up the rights to the Jens Lapidus novel on which “Snabba Cash” is based, shortly after it was published in 2007.

The book went on to became a huge hit.

The power of “Snabba Cash” — in English, “Easy Money” — lies in it originality, Wikstrom says. “It is a gangster story set in Stockholm and is extremely realistic. As a producer, the aim was to make a genuinely realistic Swedish gangster movie that I could really believe in.”

Director Daniel Espinosa — who had made two critically acclaimed arthouse movies — was attached early on and financing for the $4 million film put together from Swedish, Danish and German sources including the Swedish Film Institute, Nordic Film & TV, Eurimages and the Hamburg Film Fund.

Shot on location in Stockholm, Swedish auds loved the pic when it was released in January 2010, and it was sold to all major territories worldwide after an industry screening at the 2010 European Film Market in Berlin.

“Snabba Cash” began generating a buzz in Hollywood when Wikstrom put an early trailer online highlighting the plot — a poor college student poses as wealthy, but when he falls for a rich girl, he gets involved in organized crime to keep up the pretense. Soon, the studios started calling.

“I always had in mind the film’s remake potential — its subject matter is really original — but I imagined I would have to fly to Hollywood myself and tote a DVD around,” Wikstrom recalls.

Wikstrom got a lawyer and found himself flying out to Los Angeles for meetings with Hollywood producers and execs before sparking a bidding war that ended with a deal with Warner Bros. for “The Dark Night” producer Chuck Roven.

Wikstrom, who is among the producers for the U.S. remake, which will star Zac Efron, says he chose the WB deal because “they were all so passionate about the film.”

A script based on the film is in development, with plans to start production next year.

Tre Vanner has the rights to second and third books by Lapidus, and is developing screenplays for Swedish versions; WB has an option on rights for remakes of those films provided it makes the first film.

“Although ‘Snabba Cash’ is very different from the Stieg Larsson films, the worldwide success of those films really helped boost interest in our movie,” says Wikstrom, explaining that the company now plans to do more with the U.S.

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