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Swedish Television pulls out of ‘Arn’

Peter Flinth's costly project goes on

STOCKHOLM — Pubcaster Swedish Television is pulling out of helmer Peter Flinth’s “Arn,” the most expensive film and TV project ever made in Scandinavia.

SVT head of drama Gunnar Carlsson said the web bailed because the quality of what had been filmed so far was too low, while “Arn” author Jan Guillou claimed SVT ankled after failing to get its part of the co-production coin reduced.

The screen project, based on Guillou’s bestsellers about medieval knight Arn and his adventures in the Crusades, has a budget of 210 million kroner ($30 million), covering two features — “Arn: The Knight Templar” and “Arn: The Kingdom at the End of the Road” — plus a TV series.

No one will say how much SVT was supposed to have paid but, as a comparison, the Swedish Film Institute has put $1.2 million into the project.

The first feature is being edited and is due to open in Sweden this Christmas, the second in fall 2008, while the TV series was to air on SVT at Christmas 2008.

Producer-distrib Svensk Filmindustri is producing with Swedish studio Film i Vast, Denmarks Radio, Finnish distrib Yleisradio (YLE), commercial web TV2 Norway, German producer-distrib Telepool, Dagsljus Film Equipment, ESP and the U.K.’s Sheba Films, with support from the Swedish Film Institute, the Danish Film Institute and European funder Eurimages.

Svensk’s Waldemar Bergendahl and Jonas Mardell are producing.

SVT’s Carlsson said Svensk had not delivered the extra footage that was to make the TV series stand apart from the films, or the quality needed from an international co-production.

“We were, according to the deal, to get two features and a TV series with partially new material. If that material does not exist then you don’t want to pay the same price,” he added.

According to Guillou, the TV series will still be made, but with local web TV4 as part financier and outlet. TV4 would not confirm or deny this.

Svensk CEO Rasmus Ramstad is unperturbed by the controversy. “This should not affect the project,” he said. “The timetable still stands.”

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