Kenneth Branagh to helm Left Bank project

Sweden’s Yellow Bird is in development with Andy HarriesLeft Bank Pictures on helmer Kenneth Branagh’s “Italian Shoes,” based on Swedish author Henning Mankell’s book.

Yellow Bird producer Marianne Gray, whose shingle spawned the Swedish-language version of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and its companion pieces in the Millennium Trilogy, confirmed the news to Variety on Wednesday.

The English-language “Dragon Tattoo,” starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, opens Dec. 21 Stateside.

“Italian Shoes,” adapted by Richard Cottan, follows the tale of an elderly former surgeon reunited with an old flame he had abandoned many years ago. Dying of cancer, she asks him to fulfill a promise he made nearly 40 years ago to take her to a pool in a forest where he had spent a day with his father when he was young.

Yellow Bird and Left Bank previously worked with Mankell on the English-language adaptation of the author’s crime-thriller series “Wallander” for the BBC, which starred Branagh.

Left Bank received £32,375 ($50,197) in development funding for “Italian Shoes” in June from the British Film Institute.

Yellow Bird has a first-look deal on Mankell’s books and is planning a feature based on his WWI-set “Depths.”

Gray also said Yellow Bird was in talks for a U.S. version of Norwegian scribe Jo Nesbo’s new TV series, “Occupied.”

The shingle recently made a film based on the author’s “Headhunters,” which is being adapted into a U.S. version by Summit Entertainment.

Gray was in Blighty to deliver the keynote speech at Film London’s two-day Production Finance Market in London’s Tower Bridge Hilton Hotel.She spoke about the shingle’s activity in the market, including its co-production pacts, and said that the increasing financial and creative opportunities in Europe were attracting U.S. industryites.

“They are telling me international is the new DVD,” she told Variety. “It’s hard times everywhere with the global economy, and I think people really understand now that projects have to be successful inside and outside of the U.S. to survive and be profitable.

“I think when you work in the U.S. it’s hard to understand how it works in other markets and how different it is. But I think that people are more open to working in Europe and actually setting projects in Europe.”

At the mart more than 60 producers are presenting projects with almost $338 million of production value to 57 financiers representing private equity firms, sales companies, distributors and TV execs.

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