Zodiak captures Yellow Bird

Swedish production company specializes in crime dramas

STOCKHOLM — Zodiak Television has bought Swedish production outfit Yellow Bird.

Rapidly growing Yellow Bird produces film and TV drama, mainly based on bestselling books. The company has an exclusive agreement with author and joint owner Henning Mankell, producing crime pics based on his character Kurt Wallander. Yellow Bird completed 13 Wallander movies during 2005 and 2006, with a total budget of $28.3 million.

Yellow Bird is currently co-producing, with Illusion Film, six pics based on the crime novels of Swedish author Helene Turstens. Coming productions also include an adaptation of a trilogy by Swede Stieg Larsson for Swedish pubcaster SVT and the international market.

“The acquisition is part of our strategy and ambition to produce drama in all of the group’s territories,” said Zodiak CEO Patrick Svensk.

Formerly owned by Ole Sondberg, Henning Mankell and Lars Bjorkman, Yellow Bird has an expected turnover of at least $7 million a year in the forthcoming years. Ole Sondberg continues as creative chief of the company, while Mikael Wallen, currently m.d. for Zodiak subsidiary MTV Mastiff, will step in as m.d. on April 1.

The acquisition is made partly with cash and partly through a new share issue of Zodiak stock worth $227,000. The cash portion of the purchase price remains confidential.