Haugesund: Maipo Explores Norwegian Folklore With Live-Action Fantasy ‘The Ash Lad’ (EXCLUSIVE)

After scoring with hit family franchises “The Christmas of Solan & Ludvig” and “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder,” leading Scandinavian company Maipo is set to explore a cult Norwegian folktale with “The Ash Lad — In the Hall of Mountain King.”

Directed by Mikkel Sandemaose and penned by Aleksander Kirkwood and Synnove Horsdal, the live-action fantasy adventure movie follows the epic journey of Espen, the 17-year-old son of a poor farmer, who sets off with his brothers to rescue the princess from a vile troll known as the Mountain King to collect a reward and save his family from ruin.

TrustNordisk has acquired international sales to the film, which is being produced by Maipo’s Ashild Ramborg and Synnove Horsdal, Maipo’s CEO, with a budget of approximately 6 million Euros.

“Compared with other high-profile fantasy movies such as ‘The Shamer’s Daughter’ (whose performance in the Nordics didn’t match expectations), ‘The Ash Lad’ is deeply rooted in Norwegian mythology, which makes it more mainstream. We’re not targeting a specific age group but rather family audiences,” explained Horsdal.

On top of retelling a cult tale, “The Ash Lad” is also a “coming-of-age story centering around a teenager, Espen, and his blossoming romance with the princess,” pointed out Ales Ree, producer at Maipo.

The writers have also modernized the characters and added some humor to appeal to teens and adult auds, per Ree, who also said the princess character will be an important female character — strong-willed, sharp and utterly charming.

Co-produced by Czech Republic’s Serena Film and Ireland’s Subotica, “The Ash Lad” will start shooting in the winter of 2016 in the Norwegian wilderness as well as in a Czech studio.

Launched five years ago, the Maipo Family label has so far had a solid track record with the productions of “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder” and “The Christmas of Solan & Ludvig.”

Maipo is already thinking of developing a trilogy based on “The Ash Lad,” as the company is already doing with “Solan & Ludvig” and most recently with the live-action fantasy comedy “Doctor Proctor.”

“Doctor Proctor: Bubble in the Bathtub,” directed by Arild Frohlich, will be released in October in Norway. Meanwhile, “Solan & Ludvig: The Big Cheese Race,” which is being presented at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films market, will roll out in December. The shingle is now developing the third outing in each franchise, “Solan & Ludvig: The Space Race” and “Doctor Proctor: The End of the World. Maybe.”

While Maipo is thriving with family entertainment movies, the company remains dedicated to producing auteur-driven arthouse movies, such as the Sonja Henie’s biopic “Queen of Ice,” Anne Sewitsky’s follow-up to “Homesick,” due to start shooting in May.

Horsdal also told Variety that Maipo is increasingly interested in TV and is currently developing a couple of high-profile skeins, “A Killing” and “Peer Gynt.”

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